Myths and Facts About Lupus

When 1.5 million Americans — and at least 5 million people around the world — suffer from lupus, myths and misinformation are bound to arise. At Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center, we want to give lupus patients the best care possible, so let’s clear up a few common myths to enable you to best to fight the disease.

Myth: Lupus is a form of cancer

Fact: Lupus is classified as an autoimmune disease. This means that instead of fighting off invaders and infections as your immune system was designed to do, it begins attacking your own body, which leads to tissue damage and inflammation that affects your joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels. 

Myth: Lupus is contagious

Fact: While it’s unknown how people get lupus, it’s not caused by a virus, bacteria, or other infectious agent, so you won’t get it from being around someone who has it. Lupus has never been transferred from one person to another by sexual transmission. 

Researchers do know that genetics plays a role in the development of lupus in an individual — 20% of people with lupus have a parent or sibling who has the disease or may develop it. There may also be a link between lupus and elevated levels of estrogen in women.

Myth: Only women get lupus

Fact: While 90% of those who get lupus are women, men and children get the disease as well. Women age 15-44 are the most affected group.

Lupus doesn’t prevent women from getting pregnant (another myth), but it can cause complications in your pregnancy, including miscarriage in the first trimester, late-term issues with high blood pressure, and potential premature birth.

Myth: Lupus only affects your joints

Fact: While your joints are one of the primary areas lupus affects — and many lupus patients have arthritis — your immune system can attack many other areas of your body. Common symptoms include unexplained fever, weight loss, fatigue, skin problems such as rash, changes in blood counts, and kidney problems that can become life-threatening.

Myth: Lupus eventually goes away

Fact: There’s no known cure for lupus, but it can be managed with a combination of medication and lifestyle adjustment. Your treatment plan depends on how lupus is manifesting in your body, but doctors commonly use different medications to treat various aspects of lupus, including steroids for skin rashes and drugs that suppress the immune system.

Dr. Behnam Khaleghi helps patients get their lupus under control with innovative treatments including biologic drugs such as Benlysta®. You can also improve your well-being and quality of life by developing an exercise routine, resting well, limiting sun exposure, treating fevers quickly, and building an open and honest relationship with your doctor.

If you think you may have lupus and you’re tired of dealing with it on your own, call Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center or book an appointment with our convenient online tool. We may not be able to cure your lupus, but we can certainly help you live your life to the fullest.

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