Genetics and Lupus Essay

4425 WordsJul 14, 201318 Pages
Genetics and Lupus Introduction Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects up to two million Americans[1]. The number of Americans actually affected may be much higher than this, because so many cases are mild and often misdiagnosed. As modern tracking methods were developed, patterns began to be evident. Most of the individuals who develop lupus are women, most are African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans, most present with lupus between the ages of 15 and 45[2]. With lupus diagnosed at the rate of approximately 16,000 cases per year, this disease had created a serious health problem in the United States and research into possible causes, risk factors for, treatment, and cures were developed. Definition Lupus is a complex disease with a simple definition. From the Lupus Foundation of America, the overall definition of lupus is simply that it is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys[3]. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, in which the body, in an attempt to protect itself from foreign substances, such as viruses, bacteria, and other foreign materials, considers these to be antigens and immediately produces antibodies designed to attack and kill them. The problem here is that, if an individual has lupus, the body can no longer tell the difference between foreign materials and its own cells and tissues. Thus, whatever system is involved often attacks itself, resulting in inflammation, then pain, and finally damage to the affected system[4] Symptoms Lupus presents with any number of inflammatory symptoms, usually in combination with each other. The symptom that has traditionally been associated with lupus has been the butterfly-shaped rash that appears across the patient’s cheeks, along with mouth ulcers and hair loss[5]. One of the

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