Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs). "Chronic" means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. In lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs ("foreign invaders," like the flu). Normally our immune systems produce proteins called "antibodies" which protect the body from these invaders. "Autoimmunity" means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues ("auto" means "self"). As a result, it creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
Additional facts about lupus that you should know:
Lupus is not contagious, you cannot "catch" lupus from someone or "give" lupus to someone.
Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above. However, some treatments for lupus may include immunosuppressant drugs that are also used in chemotherapy.
Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age. However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Most people with lupus develop the disease between the ages of 15-44.
Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.
For more information about Lupus visit: www.lupus.org
Multiple Sclerosis, also referred to as "MS", is an abnormal immune-mediated response of the body's immune system, directed against the central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves), which attacks the myelin coating around nerve fibers in the central nervous system, as well as the fibers themselves. The exact cause of MS is still not known, but believed that the interaction of several different factors may be involved. Influencing factors include environmental, genetic, immunologic, and infectious factors. It is the most common disabling neurological disease of young adults and most often appears between the ages of 20 to 40, but can occur at any time. Symptoms may include: fatigue; numbness of face, body, or extremities; muscle weakness; vision problems; dizziness; bladder dysfunction; chronic pain; muscle spasms or stiffness; speech problems; tremors; breathing and swallowing problems; seizures; and headaches. Because of the wide variety of symptoms and the fact that not all may be present at any given time, MS can be difficult to diagnose. The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation estimates that more than 400,000 people in the United States have MS, and about 200 new cases are diagnosed each week. Please share your story with us in the space below if you or someone you know has been affected by MS. For more information please visit the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation's website at: https://msfocus.org
Glaucoma is known as the "silent thief of sight" because with the most common type, "Primary Open-Angle", there are few symptoms and no pain in the early stages, all the while, your eye and ultimately vision, are being damaged. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness for those over 60 years of age, but that can often be prevented with early detection and treatment.
In 2004, my Mother-In-Law, Mary Ann, noticed a problem with the vision in one eye. She had routine exams over the years and was even told to keep a watch on her eye pressure, but then moved to Florida, forgot about her pressure, and went several years without an eye exam. When she noticed a problem and had a thorough exam with an Ophthalmologist (MD) she was diagnosed with "Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma". By the time of her diagnosis, she had already lost over 70% vision in one eye. She was put on eye drops to lower her eye pressure, but ultimately had to endure numerous surgeries (Trabeculectomy) in both eyes. Through diligent care and frequent exams, she has been able to preserve her remaining vision.
Her advice to everyone is to have a yearly eye exam with an Ophthalmologist (MD) and make sure to have your eye pressure checked and monitored.
Her experience has ultimately led me to my career for the last 11 years as a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant in the Tampa Bay area. For more information on Glaucoma and other eye related issues visit: www.aao.org/eye-health.