Monday, October 3, 2011

Guest post: Lupus and MS

Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus: The Connections

Today we have a guest blogger, Chipper Nicodemus, writing in on the topic of the commonalities between Lupus and MS.

What is Lupus
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder that affects the skin, joints kidneys and other organs. An autoimmune disorder is a condition in the body where the immune system incorrectly and mistakenly attacks and destroys the good, healthy body tissues. Lupus is one of more than 80 autoimmune disorders. 
Causes and Risk Factors of Lupus
The exact cause of Lupus isn’t known, but some researchers believe that the disease occurs after an infection with an organism that looks like a mistakenly identified protein and wrongfully is then attacked. In a normal body the immune system’s white blood cells usually protect from the harmful substances, but in a person with Lupus the white blood cells are mistakenly attacked. This happens because the affected immune system cannot tell the difference between healthy and harmful cells. Women are nine times more likely to get lupus than men.
The Treatment of Lupus
The main goal of treatment of lupus is to reduce symptoms, and control the autoimmune process all while keeping the body’s ability to fight the disease. There is no cure for Lupus, but anti-malaria drugs are used to battle skin and arthritis symptoms. More severe or life threatening symptoms, such as heart or lung issues, require treatment with stronger medications in the form of various immune suppressants.
What is MS
Multiple sclerosis, like Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, affects over 300,000 Americans and is a chronic central nervous system that affects the brain and spinal cord. Each MS symptoms can last for days, weeks or sometimes even months and there are periods of reduced or even luckily no symptoms.  Some of the more common symptoms are loss of balance, muscle spasms and even problems walking, but even extend to sexual problems, incontinence and speech problems.
Treatment of MS
Similar to Lupus, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but there are therapies that can slow the disease down. The goals of the treatment of MS is to control the symptoms and help the patient keep a good quality of life. Different types of medications are used to slow the progression of MS and can be taken for longer periods of time. There are medications that reduce muscle spasms, reduce urinary problems and sometimes antidepressants are prescribed for mood or behavior symptoms.
How Lupus and MS Relate
There are several similarities between Lupus and MS, including many key symptoms and affects. Sometimes Lupus can mimic the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis and only a doctor can correctly diagnose one or the other. The following list are some examples of how Lupus and MS relate.
Autoimmune disease
Onset in early adulthood
Women more likely affected (90% of lupus patients and approx. 85% of MS pateints are women)
Chronic disorders
Treatments ease symptoms rather than cure
No cure
Do you have MS or Lupus or know any family members or loved ones that do? Please feel free to share your experiences below in the comments.
This guest blog post was written by Chipper Nicodemus, an SEO Assistant at Healthline Networks has extended its health search technology services to include specialized health tools that address the patient pathway – from symptoms to treatments, to doctors, to medications.

Healthline Networks, Inc. • Connect to Better Health

Comment From Carla:
It is interesting to note that you can have both lupus and MS. There’s no rule saying you can only have one autoimmune disease, or even just one disease. I know someone who has lupus and cancer. I myself have 3 autoimmune diseases (lupus, Raynaud’s, Sjogren’s) and fibromyalgia.
What is interesting to note is the commonalities amongst autoimmune diseases and the strong trend towards their mostly affecting women, and mostly women between 20-40. For thoughts on the gender issue, see my previous post on that topic here:

Carla Ulbrich, The Singing Patient
_____________ - health coaching

"I am reading Carla's book How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This? and loving it. I LOVE Carla's songwriting, so I'm not surprised that her prose writing is as smart, funny, and insightful as her music." - Christine Lavin