Hi Everyone, I’m Dr. Connie, and today I want to talk about a topic that is near and dear to my heart.
It’s been 19 years since being diagnosed with this terrible disease, but I feel we’ve come a long way in understanding this disease that affects over 5 million people worldwide.
Lupus is an autoimmune condition. This means the body gets confused and begins to destroy its own cells by producing antibodies.
Although the cause is unknown, we understand the workings of our immune system to triangulate the explanation that autoimmunity occurs when your body is trying to defend itself against potential toxins or pathogens.
It’s important to note that our world today is abound with toxins, and toxins are not isolated to things we eat or inhale.
But stress indirectly can have a toxic effect by compromising our immunity against such pathogens.
Think of it this way: our bodies have a robust army whose role is to defend our cells and organs 24/7.
Because of increasing toxins in our modern world, from additives and preservatives in our foods to pesticide residue on our produce, GMO products (genetically modified foods), and hormones and antibiotics in our meats, our immune system not only weakens, but our genetic code is altered as well, weakening our gut lining and ALL systems in our body.
So this offensive harm to our bodies is increasing, while our defense protecting our bodies is decreasing.
Lupus is unique in that it can affect more than one system simultaneously.
The underlying root cause of all autoimmune disease is acute or chronic systemic inflammation that leads to self destructive cells.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of Lupus range from mild to severe, and can be life threatening.
Lupus mimics other diseases because it can involve multiple systems, and the symptoms can fluctuate or change their course all together.
The most common symptoms are:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Butterfly shaped rash across the nose and cheeks
- Hair loss
- Ulcers in the nose and mouth
- Edema (water retention) in the hands, feet, and face
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Digestive problems, like IBS
How is Lupus Diagnosed?
Lupus is not easily diagnosed because of its tendency to mimic so many other diseases.
It’s not unlikely that you’ll see a number of specialists, ranging from cardiology, dermatology, infectious disease, to finally, rheumatology.
In some cases, it takes time to fully diagnose because in certain patients, they may have symptoms long before the antibodies (inflammatory markers) show up in the labs.
It took me 8 months to get diagnosed and it was a frustrating process, as I was really sick and no doctor was able to come up with a diagnosis.
In fact, they looked just as confused as I was.
How is Lupus Treated?
How is Lupus Treated? It is a frequent query asked by many patients. Basically, Lupus is mostly treated by managing symptoms, rather than addressing the underlying issue.
Typically, medications are the primary way symptoms are controlled, and such medications can cause secondary complications with side effects.
Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed to down regulate our immune system, putting patients further at risk for infection.
A host of immune suppressing drugs are also used in conjunction, which also can cause cancer.
The treatment is limited.
I was confused and frustrated at the lack of direction I was given in dealing with my condition.
I was told there was no cure, and that I should refrain from having any kids, pace myself by taking it easy and resting when I needed, and avoid stress.
That all seems so general.
In my efforts to minimize the toxic meds, I’ve made my health a priority. Health takes work, but can be created.
I personally took matters into my own hands; my 19 years of living with Lupus has been an experiment without a clear prognosis.
I just wanted to be healthy.
From Eastern Chinese Medicine to Western Medicine, I’m not sure we really understand the disease.
But Eastern medicine made more sense to me because it was all about getting MY BODY back in balance by supporting ME.
Western medicine helped me manage my symptoms when they were out of control, but “managing” my symptoms was not a good enough strategy for me.
I’ve struggled with nephritis (kidney inflammation) three times and a severe bout of IBS. Debilitating pain and fatigue were a common occurrence.
More recently, I’m participating in a clinical trial for the first ever Lupus specific drug, and I feel hopeful that it will keep me in remission.
This month is Lupus Awareness Month, so I wanted to take the time to share what Lupus is so that you can be more empathetic towards this potentially debilitating disease.
Raising awareness will help many people understand that you can still create a healthy life against all odds.
If you or anyone you know suffers from Lupus, please share this message and subscribe to my newsletter and YouTube channel.
I invite you to join our Alkaline Movement in Creating Our Health!
See you next time.