October is Lupus Awareness Month
October 01, 2021

Lupus is the “disease of a thousand faces.” It affects over 50,000 Canadians with the majority being young women in their childbearing years. However, younger people and older people are being diagnosed with the disease, underscoring the importance of drawing increased awareness and attention to this debilitating disease.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect any organ or system in the body, including the skin, joints, blood, kidneys, and central nervous system. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body’s immune system (which normally protects and defends the body against disease and illness) becomes overactive and often attacking the healthy tissues of the body. To date, Lupus is an incurable autoimmune disorder marked by periods of symptom flare-ups of unpredicted length, followed by symptom-free periods.

The symptoms of Lupus are numerous and range from mild to life-threatening and can in many cases, mimic other diseases. Symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • weakness
  • lack of energy
  • low grade or spiking fevers
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss or gain
  • frequent infections
  • anemia or low white blood count
  • rashes – typically on the bridge of the nose and across the cheeks in a butterfly shape
  • hair loss
  • ulcers in the roof of the mouth
  • allergy to sun
  • red, swollen, painful joints or muscles
  • convulsions; psychosis; nerve abnormalities that cause strange sensations or alter muscular ability
  • nephritis (kidney problems)
  • phlebitis (inflammation of the blood vessels)
  • pleurisy; pericarditis (inflammation of the membraneous sac surrounding the heart) and/or peritonitis
Lupus cannot easily be diagnosed, as no single set of symptoms are uniformly specific to the disease and no laboratory test can prove it conclusively. A diagnosis is typically made following a careful review of a patient’s medical history, an analysis of blood results, lab tests, in addition to lab tests related to immune system status. Presently, it is still possible for Lupus to be incorrectly diagnosed or require a significant amount of time to be diagnosed, mostly due to the many various symptoms, their frequency, and because the disease mimics so many other disorders.

More research is needed and is currently underway to discover the causes of Lupus and to find a cure, which is why it is so important that we all do our part to support Lupus Awareness Month in October. One of the things you can do is “Walk a Block for Lupus/October 2007.” Last year, this event raised $135,000 to help support the work of Lupus Canada and local lupus organizations across Canada. You can help by becoming a team leader and start your own walk in your community. You can also join a local walk, support a walker by giving them a donation, or volunteer with the planning of a walk or join on the day of the Walk. For more information on “Walk a Block for Lupus,” please contact Lupus Canada at www.lupuscanada.org or by telephone at 1-800-661-1468.

With your help, Lupus can be conquered!

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