Lupus is an autoimmune disease, where the disease attacks the immune system until it breaks, then turns to attack the body itself. Normally the immune system will protect the body from viruses, bacteria, and other dangerous objects. In people with lupus, this immune system actually attacks the owner because they lose the ability to see the difference between foreign substances that are harmful to the body and the body’s cells.
“The immune system is unable to tell which friends and opponents are. It’s like being shot by a gun that we hold alone, “said Prof. Dr. Zubairi Djoerban, Sp.PD-KHOM, observer of lupus problems from FKUI.
Difficult to diagnose
Worse, this disease is difficult to detect. Many patients go back to the doctor because the disease does not heal. Years later he was diagnosed with lupus.
“So this disease cannot be detected the first time the patient goes to the doctor. Doctors need medical records that are long enough, in-depth interviews about the health history of patients and their families, including conducting various laboratory tests before confirming lupus, “said Prof. Zubairi.
Another thing that complicates the diagnosis of lupus is a non-distinctive symptom, similar to other diseases, depending on the part of the body being attacked. Strangely, there were no similar cases of lupus. That’s because the body parts attacked are different. Even if the same, the symptoms can be different. Besides, symptoms develop slowly. Can be temporary or permanent.
Symptoms in some people with lupus (odapus) can be mild, and in other odapus it is very heavy to endanger life. That’s why lupus is also known as a thousand face disease or a great copycat.
Symptoms that are often found in odapus are joint pain, swollen joints, prolonged fatigue, skin rashes that do not go away, sensitive to sunlight, fingers turn white or blue when cold, canker sores go away, and platelet levels are low. “If women of childbearing age suffer from illness, they do not go away even though they have gone back and forth to the doctor, it should be suspected of lupus,” he added.
The cause of lupus is unknown. Various theories arise. Genetic factors are often “scapegoats”. In fact, only 10 percent have a history of lupus in their family.
Some theories mention factors such as ultraviolet light, chemicals, drugs, stress, and trigger hormones. Because lupus tends to attack women, especially in the productive age (20-45 years), experts suspect there is a connection with the hormone estrogen. However, this is not yet certain. “What is clear is that lupus is not contagious,” he said.
Because the cause is unclear, experts have not been able to find a cure. Treatment is only to reduce symptoms and inflammation and to keep body functions normal. Giving therapy and medication depends on the part of the body being attacked and the severity. Therefore, treatment is very diverse for each. Medications for most odapus include anti-inflammatory, corticosteroid, acetaminophen, and antimalarial types.
So far the odapus can only “make peace” with his illness for an indefinite period of time. Moreover, to treat lupus is not enough just with medicine. Most patients experience stress and depression, so therapy is needed to develop odapus mentality. “There must be full support from family or close relatives so that the odapus can live like normal people,” he said.