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Lupus Awareness Among African American Women

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Dear Dr. Levister: Two members of my family have been diagnosed with lupus. Are African American women at greater risk? Is this caused by taking certain medications? F. C.

Dear F.C.: Lupus can be found in all different races but the ethnic group that is most affected by this disease is African American women.

It is generally found in women who are in their reproductive years. The several types of the disease include; systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Discoid Lupus (DLE), Druginduced lupus, and Neonatal lupus.

Lupus is characterized as a chronic autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues and organs. This attack on the body causes damages to the joints, heart, lungs, brain, kidney, skin, and blood.

Systematic lupus erythematosus is the most common type of the disease, the symptoms of this type are “butterfly” rash across the nose and cheeks, sores on the mouth or nose, skin rashes, fever, pain in the abdominal, chest, and joints, hair loss, fatigue, kidney inflammation and depression.

Discoid lupus causes a red, raised rash on the face, scalp, or other parts of the body which can last for years at a time. Drug-induced lupus comes from a reaction from some prescription medications. While on these specific types of drugs, it can take years until the symptoms become noticeable. When the patient stops the use of the drug, the symptoms no longer exists and could take as long as days, weeks, or months to go away depending on the person. While the symptoms are similar to those of SLE, it does not attack the kidneys or the central nervous system.

Neonatal lupus is the rarest one of all and it occurs in the newborn babies of women who have SLE. The disease is genetically transmitted and the babies affected by this disease suffer from serious heart problems, skin rashes or liver problems.

This disease can be transferred from mother to child during birth but it is found mostly in women from ages 15-45.

The common risk factors for this disease are your sex, age, race, family history. Even though men can be diagnosed with this disease, women are nine times more likely to be infected.

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