Shining a spotlight on lupus during October

Date: 11 October 2017

Bromley CCG is supporting residents and families with lupus during October as part of lupus awareness month. Lupus is a painful, debilitating condition in which a person’s immune system malfunctions and attacks healthy tissues, cells and organs.

Most common in Black and Asian women, lupus (also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)) causes symptoms such as extreme tiredness, joint pain and swelling, and rashes – particularly on the face, wrists and hands. Miscarriage, depression, anaemia, feverishness, headaches, hair loss and mouth ulcers, and as well organ damage, may also be part of the pattern of the condition. 
While genetic factors are implicated in the development of lupus, a number of environmental factors may also be responsible for triggering SLE in vulnerable individuals. These include:

• exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet light)
• hormonal changes during puberty or pregnancy
• certain infections, such as by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) which causes glandular fever. Glandular fever is spread through a person's saliva, through coughing, sneezing, shared cutlery and crockery, and kissing

And, even though there's currently no cure for SLE, medication and lifestyle changes can make the condition easier to live with.

Dr Jon Doyle, local GP and Bromley CCG clinical director says: “Many people have long periods with few or no symptoms before experiencing a sudden flare-up, where their symptoms are particularly severe. Even mild cases can be distressing and have a considerable impact on a person's quality of life. I would advise anyone with concerns about lupus to discuss their concerns with a GP to get the help they need.”

Following a diagnosis of lupus, a GP may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and may advise individuals to protect themselves from the sun. Vitamin D supplementation may also be recommended.

Lupus UK is organising an October awareness campaign, which offers a range of support and resources to help UK sufferers manage the day-to-day implications of the condition. Lupus is still considered a rare disease by many people, and most GPs have only one or two patients with lupus on their lists. It is thought that in total one person in 3,500 may have the condition, which is most common in women aged 50-54 years and in men aged 70-74 years.

Bromley residents can find more information and advice by contacting regional coordinator Laura Sinnett at South London lupus group, contact regional coordinator Laura Sinnett by emailing:

Londoners with a diagnosis of lupus are fortunate to have two Lupus UK centres of excellence in the city – at King’s College London and at University College London Hospitals – offering specialist help and resources including lupus information literature and helplines.

The 2017 Lupus Awareness Month campaign will use the hashtag #THISISLUPUS and the twitter feed @LupusUK. The aim of the campaign is to make this ‘invisible’ condition visible. Patients, carers and healthcare professionals with an interest in the condition can share photos, videos and stories relating to Lupus. More information about the campaign can be found here.

You can find out more information about the symptoms, causes and diagnosis of Lupus by visiting NHS Choices.

  • Summary:

    Lupus is a painful, debilitating condition in which a person’s immune system malfunctions and attacks healthy tissues, cells and organs

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