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Lupus

As an autoimmune disease, lupus occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs in the body. Some of the symptoms include mouth ulcers, hair loss, rashes, joint pain, fatigue, high blood pressure, and neurological problems such as seizures. More advanced or acute cases can also involve the kidneys, lungs, and blood vessels, and can cause life-threatening complications.

Lupus occurs primarily in women between the ages of 15 to 44 and in African Americans and Latinos at three times the rate than for Caucasians. Although it is less well known in this country, worldwide it is seen as more common than leukemia, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy. Official estimates are that about 250,000 to 500,000 people have lupus in this country, although that number was recently contradicted by a poll done by the Lupus Foundation of America that puts it closer to between 1 and 2 million. The Foundation also believes there are thousands more cases going undiagnosed because there is less awareness of lupus, many of the symptoms mimic other common ailments, and the symptoms often come and go, making a definitive diagnosis difficult.

They say there is no cure for lupus, but there is a natural option you can try that may help you avoid steroids and minimize flare-ups. A new study confirmed what Dr. Wright has advised his patients with lupus all along - fish oil supplements. Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, and of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EFA (eicosapentaenoic acid), all of which are powerful anti-inflammatories. The study also found that fish oil was most helpful with skin and neurological problems associated with lupus.

Of course, it takes a combined approach to manage lupus, and no one thing - even fish oil - is the magic bullet. But the point is that there are natural things to try, even for "incurable" diseases.

To Diagnose Lupus...

Antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) are antibodies in the blood that are capable of attacking the nucleus of your cells. Doctors screen for ANAs in the body in order to help diagnose lupus. There are other factors that can cause this test to be positive, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, and scleroderma, as well as infectious diseases such as mononucleosis, subacute bacterial endocarditis, and autoimmune thyroid and liver disease. Certain medications can also cause a positive ANA test, and about 5 percent of the general population will have a positive ANA and have no associated illness or condition. This test is just a step in diagnosing lupus, which includes 11 more factors before a diagnosis can be made. To see the other factors, you can visit the Lupus Foundation of America website at www.lupus.org.


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