Lupus Awareness Month October 1st – October 31st – Lupus Awareness Month takes place during October in the UK every year. It is an important opportunity to raise awareness of the disease amongst the public and medical profession as well as improving the understanding of the impact that lupus can have.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is an incurable immune system illness, probably genetic in origin and mainly suffered by females. It can affect any part of the body and that’s the danger.
There are two main types of lupus:
- discoid lupus
- systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Discoid lupus only affects the skin, causing rashes. People can get it in one small area on the skin, or it can be widespread. SLE can affect many parts of the body in several ways. It can range from mild to severe. There is no cure, but early treatment can help to keep symptoms under control.
Symptoms of Lupus
The three most common symptoms of lupus are:
- joint pains
- skin rashes, which may become noticeable after being out in the sun
- extreme tiredness, known as fatigue.
Some people with lupus will only have these symptoms, though they can still have a big impact on daily life.
Other general symptoms are:
- ulcers in the mouth or nose
- hair loss
- weight loss
- swelling of the lymph glands, in the neck, armpits or groin, or under the chin
Lupus can affect many different parts of the body, and when internal organs such as the heart, lungs, brain or kidneys are involved it can be much more serious. It’s important to have regular check-ups, and to report any new symptoms to your healthcare professionals.
Most people will only have one or a few of the possible symptoms, and many people find that the symptoms come and go.
It’s unclear why some people get lupus. It’s thought to be the result of a mix of genetic, hormonal and environmental factors. For example, the immune system makes proteins called antibodies that fight infection. In lupus, the body also makes autoantibodies that are similar, but attack the body’s own tissues instead. We’re not sure why this happens. There are some factors that probably make this more likely:
- an illness or infection
- strong sunlight
- hormonal changes, such as during puberty
- smoking cigarettes
- some medications – this is known as drug-induced lupus, and this usually gets better when people come off the medication that caused it.
Lupus isn’t directly passed on from a parent to their children, but if you have a close relative with lupus then you may be at increased risk of developing it.
Lupus isn’t contagious, so you can’t catch it from anyone else.
By making people more aware of lupus you can help control its impact. They need your help to raise awareness of lupus, its symptoms and the effects it can have on people’s lives this Lupus Awareness Month.
You can help raise awareness by taking part in the 31-Mile Virtual Challenge – Take part in this fun new virtual challenge and help raise awareness during Lupus Awareness Month! The event takes place in October, and anyone can take part! Walk, run, wheelchair or cycle a total of 31 miles throughout the month by completing 1-mile a day or by taking on three 10.3-mile challenges! It’s not to late to sign up. Sign up HERE