It's an auto-immune disease that's notoriously difficult to diagnose and during Lupus Awareness Month, Phemelo Motene asks Dr Fundile Nyathi for his insights.
The chief executive officer (CEO) of Proactive Health Solutions explains in layman's terms exactly what happens in a Lupus sufferer's body.
Lupus is a disease that happens when your own body's immune system, instead of fighting germs, it identifies your own tissues as enemy and the immune system decides to destroy any tissue of the body.— Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions
That could be affecting the skin, that could be affecting the brain, the heart, the lungs, the kidneys - basically any part of your body can be attacked by the body's immune system, mistaking it for invaders like germs.— Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions
It is because the condition presents so differently in different patients says Dr Nyathi, that it can be difficult to diagnose.
Even if it affects the heart (for instance), is it the muscle of the heart, is it the covering of the heart?— Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions
At the same time, there are a number of common symptoms which should alert doctors and patients themselves, such as the so-called butterfly rash.
It's a rash that happens on the face, affecting the cheeks and the nasal bridge.— Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions
He says it's important for people to be pro-active - if they have skin or joint conditions that fit the symptoms, or unexplained fatigue, they should approach a doctor about Lupus.
If there is a family history of the condition, this should be mentioned as well.
Sometimes doctors miss if for years and people present to the doctors quite late because the symptoms are so non-specific.— Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions
Dr Nyathi says with auto-immune diseases, especially Lupus, there are no preventative measures and there's also no cure.
All we can do is to try and get your immune system to actually be lowered from being too aggressive, using a variety of drugs like steroid tablets, your anti-inflammatories.— Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions
You need to balance the reduction of the aggressiveness of the immune system with the fact that you still need to have a competent immune system to fight off germs.— Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions
To hear the complete discussion, listen below: