Why is Lupus considered a serious disease?
Lupus is a very unpredictable disease. It's capricious behaviour makes it difficult to diagnose because it can appear in any form. Most often patients and doctors even do not suspect the actual underlying reason of the symptoms and the disease progresses for quite a while before proper treatment is initiated.
The symptoms too may be acute in their manifestation. The skin lesions are often so severe as to be compared to radiation burns. Most of all however it is the effect that the disease has on multiple organs and functional systems in the body that makes it a disease to reckon with.
It must be understood that the disease may run a mild course. However, it is the potential to harm that gives it the label of a "serious disease".
In what ways can lupus harm the body?
The basic pathology of the disease is that it can cause inflammation of any cell or organ. If it affects the blood cells it can cause breakdown of the red blood cells or haemolysis leading to anaemia.When the platelets are affected it can reduce the platelet count in the body leading to easy bruising and bleeding. If the white blood cells are affected it can affect the body's ability to ward off infections leading to serious infections.
Risk of blood clotting
On the other hand it can cause an increased risk of blood clotting. This increases the chances of deep vein thrombosis and a blood clot in the lungs or pulmonary embolism. Blood clots are because of the production of abnormal proteins or antiphospholipid (APL) antibodies which can be tested for.
If the inflammation is in the blood vessels it is called vasculitis. Inflamed blood vessels cause the deposition of cholesterol causing atherosclerosis and narrowing of the vessel. Thus the area supplied by that artery will get a decreased blood flow leading to problems. Atherosclerosis in the heart can lead to ischaemia and a heart attack.
What are effects brain causes if lupus attack?
In the brain it could cause a stroke leading to numbness and paralysis. You could also suffer headaches, dizziness, behaviour changes, vision impairment, memory problems, confusion, delusions and hallucinations. Involvement of the spinal cord can cause muscle weakness and numbness.
When the blood supply to a bone is diminished the bone can gradually become brittle and break down. In the skin it can cause necrosis.
Inflammation if it occurs in the lungs affects the pleural lining of the lungs leading to chest pain, and accumulation of fluid around the lungs (pleuritis or pleurisy). Pneumonia can occur as well as bleeding into the lungs.
Is Lupus affect the heart?
Lupus inflammation can affect the heart muscles causing myocarditis, or the heart membrane causing pericarditis. The heart valves can also be affected by lupus, resulting in shortness of breath and irregular heart beats.
Symptoms of kidney disease
Lupus commonly affects the kidneys causing kidney damage and renal failure. This is one of the leading causes of death in people with lupus. Symptoms of kidney disease may develop along with other lupus symptoms like fatigue, rash, fever and joint pains. Sometimes, the kidney involvement is the first presentation of the disease.
What are the major causes of death, if lupus attack?
Apart from organ involvement lupus makes one more vulnerable to infections. Early in lupus this can be one of the major causes of death. There is also a small increased risk of developing cancers. Gangrene can occur in fingers and toes. Pancreatitis and adrenal insufficiency can also occur.
Risk of miscarriages
There is also an increased risk of miscarriages in pregnant women with untreated lupus, as well as of pre-eclampsia and premature birth.