What Are the Different Types of Lupus?
Although SLE is the most common, there are actually several different types of lupus, some of which can occur in tandem.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
In general, when someone says, “I have lupus,” they are most likely referring to the most common type of lupus — systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Not only is this the most common type, it tends to create the most havoc.
Many complications and an assortment of related issues can emerge with SLE, which sadly has been my experience. Lupus has damaged my skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, lymph nodes, eyes, digestive system, and central nervous system — the most severe being my kidneys (referred to as lupus nephritis or lupus kidney disease) and my brain (referred to as lupus cerebritis or CNS lupus), although both are being adequately controlled.
Additionally, I have developed “related” conditions including lupus hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease) and vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation). Furthermore, as many as 10 percent of those with SLE may develop and suffer from Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition that causes glands to function improperly creating chronic dry eye and dry mouth.
It is the combination of all these issues that makes lupus a challenge to diagnose and difficult to treat. New complications can arise at any time, which is why its of extreme importance for those suffering from lupus to be aware of new symptoms and keep medical appointments so it does not get out of hand!
To date, professionals cannot pinpoint the cause of SLE. However, they have identified certain genes as being associated with the development of lupus.
This information tells us that lupus could be genetic; however, in my particular case, no one in my family has lupus — lucky me, I’m the first one! So, do I have these identified genes?
Well, I really don’t know. However, the knowledge helps professionals weigh in on the likelihood that someone will develop lupus, particularly if there is a family history.
Other potential causes of lupus include hormonal factors; it is well known that women are more likely than men to develop lupus. Environmental factors are also a concern; certain toxins, illnesses, and medications can aggravate lupus.
Ultraviolet rays are a big issue for many lupus sufferers. There have been times I develop a “sunburn” type redness or rash (complete with pain) within minutes of being exposed to the sun.
Furthermore, although it has not been directly linked, my problems with lupus began after a severe case of strep throat in 2006. I was given a shot of penicillin and quickly developed hives — I have not been the same since and I remain convinced that there is a strong connection between the strep, penicillin and lupus.
I have heard others report similar situations. Can this just be a coincidence? I suppose — but in my opinion, it seems highly unlikely!
Next page: the various forms of lupus.