Lupus, also known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system, which normally protects the body from foreign invaders, mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs within the body. Lupus is no exception to this, and it can cause damage to multiple organs and systems throughout the body.
So, how does lupus attack your own body?
First, it’s important to understand how the immune system normally works. The immune system is made up of different cells and proteins that work together to protect the body from infections and other foreign invaders. When the immune system detects something foreign, it launches an attack to get rid of it. This process is essential for the body’s health and survival.
However, in autoimmune diseases like lupus, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own cells and tissues, leading to inflammation and damage. In lupus, the immune system produces autoantibodies, which are antibodies that attack the body’s own cells and tissues. These autoantibodies can cause damage to various organs and systems in the body.
One of the most common organs affected by lupus is the skin. Lupus can cause rashes, hives, and other skin lesions. These skin symptoms are usually triggered by exposure to sunlight or other sources of ultraviolet light. Lupus can also affect the joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. This type of joint pain is often called “arthritis.”
Lupus can also affect the heart and blood vessels. Inflammation caused by lupus can damage the heart muscle, valves, and lining of the heart. This can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms of heart disease. Lupus can also cause inflammation of the blood vessels, which can lead to conditions such as vasculitis and Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Lupus can affect the lungs as well. Inflammation caused by lupus can lead to pleuritis, which is inflammation of the lining of the lungs. This can cause chest pain and difficulty breathing. Lupus can also cause pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs.
Finally, lupus can affect the kidneys. Inflammation caused by lupus can damage the kidneys, leading to protein in the urine, high blood pressure, and other kidney problems. In some cases, lupus can cause kidney failure.
In conclusion, lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause damage to multiple organs and systems throughout the body. The immune system’s production of autoantibodies is what causes this damage. While there is no cure for lupus, there are treatments available that can help manage symptoms and prevent damage to organs. If you suspect you may have lupus, it’s important to see a healthcare provider for evaluation and diagnosis.