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Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause pain and inflammation, among other symptoms. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, meaning that your immune system—which generally fights invaders and infections—mistakenly attacks its healthy tissue and organs. Pain can occur anywhere in the body, including skin, joints, and even internal organs.

Lupus, also known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE),  is a chronic autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own healthy tissue and organs. This results in high levels of persistent inflammation, which can cause damage to nearly every part of the body, including the heart, joints, brain, kidneys, lungs, and endocrine glands. 

Lupus can cause serious kidney damage; kidney failure is one of the leading causes of death among people with lupus.

Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other conditions, namely thyroid dysfunction, Lyme disease, and fibromyalgia. However, the most distinctive sign of lupus is a facial rash that resembles the wings of a butterfly unfolding across both cheeks. Although common, it may not be present in all cases of lupus.

Risk factors

The exact cause of lupus is not fully understood, however, there are certain factors that may put you at a higher risk of getting lupus. These include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Having at least one other autoimmune condition
  • Being a woman; 90% of all lupus patients are women
  • People between the ages of 15–45; women of “childbearing age” are by far the most likely to develop lupus
  • Certain ethnicities, namely being of African American, Asian or Native American descent.
  • Poor diet
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • GI dysfunction, including leaky gut syndrome
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • Exposure to toxins
  • History of infections

Common symptoms

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Stiffness, swelling, and edema
  • Shortness of breath and chest pains
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Skin rashes 
  • Skin lesions or irritations, which get worse with sun exposure
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Blurred vision and dry eyes
  • Mouth and nose sores and ulcers
  • Anemia and weakness
  • Memory loss and confusion
  • Fingers and toes that turn blue or white when exposed to cold or during stressful periods.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease, which primarily affects the joints, causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and limitations in movement. It is estimated that between 1.3 and 2.1 million Americans suffer from RA.

For most people, their RA symptoms worsen when inflammation levels rise but then resolve for a while, only to return once again. These are commonly referred to as “flare-ups.” Progression of RA without addressing the underlying inflammation can cause joint and tissue damage over time, resulting in serious health complications. 

There is currently no known “cure” for RA, however, there are several ways to reduce inflammation, which can reduce symptoms, as well as reduce and potentially reverse damage.

Key risk factors

Inflammation can be triggered by several factors, however, some common risk factors for RA include:

  • Suffering from at least one other autoimmune condition
  • Being between the ages of 30 and 60
  • Being a woman; women are 3 times more likely than men to develop RA
  • Low immune function
  • Poor gut health or “leaky gut syndrome“
  • Poor diet
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • Obesity 
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Exposure to environmental or other toxins
  • Smoking cigarettes

What are the most common symptoms?

  • Joint pain, swelling and stiffness
  • Redness, heat, and tenderness near the inflamed joints: usually experienced in a “symmetrical pattern,” meaning multiple joints are impacted and on both sides of the body instead of just one side
  • Morning stiffness
  • Fatigue and muscle aches
  • Impaired movement
  • Low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Gum inflammation or irritation
  • Skin nodules, especially over bony areas
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anemia