Health & Wellbeing
JAM | May 10, 2023

It’s World Lupus Day! Make Lupus Visible

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As the world observes World Lupus Day (May 10), a time to raise awareness about the autoimmune disease which affects several parts of the body, it is equally important to understand the complexity of the disease to best support persons living with the condition.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), commonly referred to as Lupus affects more than more than five million people globally. It is estimated that 6000 people in Jamaica are currently living with the disease.

SLE affects people of all ages, irrespective of their age or gender, however, the disease is more common among women who are of childbearing age (between ages 15 and 45).

Lupus can affect the quality of life of persons living with the disease, especially for individuals who cannot afford medical care.

Common symptoms

Persons living with the medical condition many people have different symptoms because the inflammation caused by lupus can affect several areas in the body.

According to the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica (LFJ), most patients with lupus suffer from joint pains and skin rashes.  However, others also develop fluid around the heart and lungs, and in some cases, kidney disease and dysfunction of some brain activities.

Dysfunction in brain activities can lead to visual challenges, memory loss, epileptic fits, severe headaches and psychological problems. Similarly, women who become pregnant with the disease are at a higher risk of pregnancy complications compared to other females.

Recent studies have shown that the disease is linked to environmental, genetic and hormonal factors.

There is currently no cure for Lupus, however, with early medical treatment and lifestyle changes persons living with the medical condition can lead a normal life.

What are the treatment options available?

Medical providers typically conduct an Anti-Nuclear Antibodies (ANA) blood test to determine whether their patients have lupus before diagnosis.

Treatment options for persons who test positive for (SLE) depend on the symptoms associated with the disease, therefore there is no one size fits all. It is important for persons living with the condition to speak to their healthcare provider about the symptoms they are experiencing to aid in the correct diagnosis.

SLE is commonly treated with prescription drugs such as Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Corticosteroids, Antimalarial drugs, Immunosuppressive agents/chemotherapy (for severe cases), BLyS-specific inhibitors and among others.

Make Lupus Visible

Lupus is not a death sentence, many people living with the condition can still work, raise a family and enjoy a social life with medical treatment.

This year, World Lupus Day is being championed under the theme ‘Make Lupus Visible’ which is targeted at highlighting the social, economic and psychological impacts of the condition.

Family members, co-workers and the general public all have a role to play in creating an inclusive and supportive society for individuals living with lupus.

The LFJ will be hosting a Health Fair at Emancipation Park to commemorate World Lupus Day by providing free health checks and demonstrations between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. There will also be informative discussions about topics relating to lupus.

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