It's Lupus Awareness Month - here's how to spot symptoms of the disease

October is Lupus Awareness Month.
October is Lupus Awareness Month.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects up to 50,000 people in the UK, and whose sufferers are said to include the likes of Beethoven, Selena Gomez and Seal.

October is Lupus Awareness Month, a time to increase public understanding of the disease and the support available.

So here are my tips and advice on how to spot symptoms and the treatments there to help.

What are the symptoms?

Lupus is more common in women, and the two main symptoms to look out for are extreme tiredness and muscle pain.

Other symptoms can include facial rashes, depression, hair loss, kidney problems and mouth ulcers.

Lupus can often be confused for other diseases, as the symptoms are commonly associated with a variety of conditions.

If you are unsure or want more information, talk to your local or online doctor.

What causes it?

There are certain triggers that can be associated with Lupus such as viral infections, certain medications, sunlight, trauma, puberty, post-childbirth and the menopause.

There is a genetic link too, often a lupus patient has family members with conditions such as MS, thyroid problems, diabetes, Raynauds and others.

How do you treat it?

The most common form of treatment to control Lupus include an anti-malarial treatment called hydroxychloroquine and Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

There are also over-the-counter drugs to ease the day to day symptoms such as swelling, pain or fever associated with the disease.

As with anything, eating healthily and plenty of exercise can make a big difference to your health as well as Lupus symptoms.

There are charities to help too, the main one being Lupus UK, a national charity which supports people with the disease as well as those approaching diagnosis.

Most importantly, if you’re worried or think you might have Lupus, stay positive and talk to your GP or online doctor.

By Dr. Alexandra Phelan

Dr Phelan is a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U, an online service which provides free, fast and convenient delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions.