Sometimes a Systemic Yeast Infection can have light symptoms, and because of this they're dismissed as nothing to concerned about. The problem is, this allows the yeast to enter the bloodstream where a lot of different problems can eventuate and can even become a life-threatening situation.

The body naturally has a certain amount of yeast that lives in the body in small quantities and actually help the body, without doing any harm to it. There are also different types of microorganisms inside the body that are there to keep the yeast in check so an infection does not occur.

On-going stress attacks, poor choices of food, normal pregnancy changes, immune system deficiency diseases, antibiotic medications and other disease may abolish the tiny microorganisms and thereby allow the Systemic Yeast Infection Symptoms to rage.

The Systemic Yeast Infection Symptoms can differ from each individual, but here a few of the most usual ones:

Heavy sense of exhaustion and unusual run down feelings may arise.

1. The feelings of sensory disturbances, unusual muscle aches and pains, continual headaches, constant dizziness, and complaints of the sufferering of persistent tiredness are signs of a person with Systemic Yeast Infection.

2. Unusual or sudden sensitivity to chemicals or new food allergies.
Arising troubles which haven't occurred before with several chemicals or foods are common with those suffering from Systemic Yeast Infection Symptoms.

3. Problems with the gastrointestinal tract.

On many occasions, as touched on in the previous detail of the food allergies, flatulence, inflammatory bowel disease, rectal itching, constipation, and diarrhea are the most common of the Symptoms.

It is even possible for thrush, a Yeast Infection affecting the mouth and/or throat, to develop.

4. Onset of urinary and genital problems.

5. Development of hives and skin rashes.

You could even be having a case of hives, and not know where they came from.

6. Suddenly feeling irritable or mildly depressed.

Many times people complain of Systemic Yeast Infection Symptoms that include: mental confusion, feeling of being in a 'fog', difficulty focusing or concentrating, sleepness nights, memory loss, and decreased attention span.

7. Problems with the autoimmune system.

Some autoimmune disorders that normally become worse from a Systemic Yeast Infection are sarcoidosis, scleroderma, myasthenia gravis, arthritis, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenic purpura, or systemic lupus erythematosus.

Yeast flourish on a body that is fed with sugar, refined starch, and chemical additives.
These chemicals, starches and sugars are also readily present in bread, cookies, chips and other junk foods which are a large part of many peoples diets.

When someone is under immense stress, the microorganisms in the body that control the yeast start to die off.

Anytime you think you may have a Systemic Yeast Infection Symptoms, you need to check with your doctor about what tests need to be run to determine what your body's level of Yeast organism is.
All in all, remember that it's vital to know if you are dealing with a Systemic Yeast Infection Symptoms so you can get the proper treatment.

About the author:

Source: http://www.sooperarticles.com/health-fitness-articles/women-health-articles/systemic-yeast-infection-symptoms-7-signs-watch-out-464763.html


symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus in children

31 thoughts on “Symptoms Of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus In Children

  1. cassy

    What does it mean if your period lasts longer than 2 weeks whn normally it’s just 3 days?
    I thought I was about off my period and me andy boyfriend had sex and it started all over again like a whole new cycle this is going into the third week I’ve been on my period now

    1. Strawberry

      Nephrotic syndrome can be caused by a number of different diseases. The common mechanism which seems to cause damage involves the immune system. For some reason, the immune system seems to become directed against the person’s own kidney. The glomeruli become increasingly leaky as various substances from the immune system are deposited within the kidney. A number of different kidney disorders are associated with nephrotic syndrome, including:
      • minimal change disease or MCD (responsible for about 80% of nephrotic syndrome in children, and about 20% in adults) MCD is a disorder of the glomeruli
      • focal glomerulosclerosis
      • membranous glomerulopathy
      • membranoproliferative glomerulonephropathy Other types of diseases can also result in nephritic syndrome. These include diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, amyloidosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, sarcoidosis, leukemia, lymphoma, cancer of the breast, colon, and stomach, reactions to drugs (including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, lithium, and street heroine), allergic reactions (to insect stings, snake venom, and poison ivy), infections (malaria, various bacteria, hepatitis
      B, herpes zoster, and the virus which causes AIDS), and severe high blood pressure. The first symptom of nephrotic syndrome is often foamy urine. As the syndrome progresses, swelling (edema) is noticed in the eyelids, hands, feet, knees, scrotum, and abdomen. The patient feels increasingly weak and fatigued. Appetite is greatly decreased. Over time, the loss of protein causes the muscles to become weak andsmall (called muscle wasting). The patient may note abdominal pain and difficulty breathing. Because the kidneys are involved in blood pressure regulation, abnormally low or abnormally high blood pressure may develop.

  2. anil_k_arora

    what is the effect of the drug hydroxychloroquine sulphateon the fetus if it is taken during fertilizatio?
    I was taking hydroxy chloroquine sulphate 200mg when i conceived and i i took it for 14 days after fertilization of ovum .As i was not aware of pregnancy which i came to know after 2 days of missing my period. What will be effect of the drug on fertilized ovum. Whether it will abort ?or can it produce madevelopment of the child. Should i go for an termination of pregnancy? Before the expected date of mensis i had already stopped the drug 4 days before. Still it can produce any malformation in fetus?

    1. Jasmine B

      Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate

      How does it work?

      Hydroxychloroquinine is used in the treatment of some auto-immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. In these diseases the body’s immune system is over-active and slightly defective. The body develops antibodies which attack and cause damage to its own cells. Damage can occur anywhere in the body, such as in the joints or cartilage as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. As a result of the damage to the joints, reduced mobility and stiffness in the affected joints is experienced. Hydroxychloroquine is thought to act by interfering with the production and release of blood cells that are involved in the body’s immune defence system. Hence the autoimmune response of the antibodies against its own body, is reduced and as result the amount of damage to the cells is minimized and prevented. As it has the potential to prevent progression of the disease, by limiting the damage caused, it is often referred to as a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARDS) and is commonly used very early in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Hydroxychloroquine is also used in treating skin conditions that are caused or aggravated by sunlight.

      What is it used for?

      # Inflammatory disease of the joints
      # Long-term inflammation of skin and some internal organs (systemic lupus erythematosus) or related diseases e.g. scleroderma
      # Severe inflammatory diease of the joint that commonly occurs in children and adolescents (juvenile arthritis)
      # Skin damaged by the sun
      # Skin disorders caused or made worse by sunlight

      Warning!

      # This medication may cause a blurring of vision. If affected do not drive or operate machinery.
      # People taking this medicine should have regular blood tests to check the levels of their blood components.
      # It is recommended that eye examinations are carried out before starting treatment with this medicine and repeated every six months in the course of the treatment. This medicine should be discontinued if any visual problems develop.

      Use with caution in

      # Disease affecting the brain and nervous system (neurological disease)
      # Gastro-intestinal conditions
      # Individuals taking medicines that may cause skin reactions or impair vision
      # Kidney disease
      # Lack of the chemical G6PD in the blood (G6PD deficiency)
      # Life long inherited blood diseases which can cause a variety of symptoms, including mental health problems (porphyrias)
      # Liver disease
      # Psoriasis
      # Severe blood disorders

      Not to be used in

      # Allergy to quinine
      # Pre-existing abnormality of the eye (eye maculopathy)
      # Pregnancy

      This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy. If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

      Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

      Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.

      # This medicine should not be used in pregnancy. Seek medical advice from your doctor.
      # This medicine passes into breast milk in small amounts. Seek medical advice from your doctor before breastfeeding.

  3. jerry w

    I have a few medical questions and here are my symt.?
    I have servere headaches, pain in the feet, fingers, arms, legs, and a pounding heart. it feels strained. and no menstrual cycle for two months. no to pregancy, and also blood in the stool
    And one postitive lupus anticogulant and one neg. and visual problems with loss of sight for a few moments.
    so they are not worried about that now about the anitcogulant. i have no medical insurance as of last week. so i cant just go to doctors. does any of this sound like a condition in the same ball park. every doctor wants to send me to different docs.
    Thanks in advance
    and my stomach is swollen. and i do have high liver numbers when tested. And had a second trimister loss due to blood clot.

    1. Alayna N

      Definition

      Lupus, also known as lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune inflammatory disorder.

      Description

      Lupus produces widely varying symptoms, although joint pain is reported by most patients and skin lesions are common. Lupus can cause short periods of symptoms alternating with healthy periods, or can progress into a life-threatening disorder affecting the heart, kidneys, and other organs.

      Demographics

      Between one million and 1.5 million Americans have some form of lupus. The incidence among women is 10–15 times greater than among men, and it is two to three times more common among African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans than among whites. Lupus most often appears for the first time in women between the ages of 15 and 44. Twenty thousand people die of lupus-related causes in the United States annually.

      Causes and symptoms

      Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, a disease in which the body’s immune system turns against the body itself. In a healthy person, the immune system defends against invading organisms but does not, in general, attack the body’s own tissues. The cause of lupus is unknown. However, it is known that lupus has a genetic component, which means a predisposition to lupus can be inherited. Approximately 10% of lupus patients have one or more direct relatives with lupus. (Note that this means that 90% of lupus patients have no such relatives; however, it shows a genetic connection because 10% is a much higher figure for familial lupus than can be attributed to chance alone.) Lupus has been definitely linked to genes on chromosome 1 and less certainly to genes on chromosomes 4 and 6.

      Given genetic susceptibility, the disease may either develop spontaneously or be triggered by some environmental factor. Environmental factors known to trigger lupus include infections (e.g., Epstein-Barr virus, which infects 99% of children with lupus, but only 70% of healthy children), antibiotics, ultraviolet light (the rays in sunlight or sunlamp-light that causes sunburn), stress, smoking, certain medications, and hormones (especially estrogen, the female sex hormone).

      Lupus manifests as a continuum or spectrum of disorders. However, it is common to divide lupus cases into four categories or groups:

      Systemic lupus erythematosus. This is the most serious form of lupus and affects about 70% of all persons with lupus. It is termed systemic because, in this variety of lupus, the body’s immune system attacks one or more essential body systems. Targets may include the brain, kidneys, heart, pancreas, or other organs.

      Discoid or cutaneous lupus erythematosus. This variety of lupus is less severe, in that it attacks the skin only. However, it can be disfiguring, often attacking the skin of the face. The term discoid is derived from the round (disc-shaped) lesions that appear on the skin. About 10–15% of lupus patients have cutaneous lupus.

      Drug-induced or drug-related lupus erythematosus. This term refers to lupus that develops after a patient has taken a medication. Medications that can trigger drug-induced lupus include procainamide or hydralazine. Many of the substances that can potentially trigger lupus fall into the class of aromatic amines, or hydrazines. For example, the aromatic amine paraphenylenediamine is present in certain hair dyes and has been associated with lupus or lupus-like syndrome. Tartrazine (a food coloring, FD&C yellow No. 5), which is present in thousands of foods and medications, has also been associated with lupus. Cocaine abuse can induce lupus and several other connective-tissue diseases, as can exposure to certain metals (e.g., mercury). Between 10,000 and 15,000 people are diagnosed with drug-induced lupus annually in the United States.

      Mixed connective tissue disease. Approximately 10% of patients with lupus also have symptoms of one or more additional connective-tissue diseases.

      The symptoms of lupus are quite varied. In discoid lupus, red patches (erythema) appear symmetrically on the cheeks, possibly extending to the face, neck, scalp, and other parts of the body. No organ other than the skin is affected (or the disease is classified as systemic, rather than discoid). Systemic lupus may begin suddenly, signaled by fever, or develop slowly over months or years. Chronic fatigue is a common symptom. Symptoms related to impairment of any organ may occur. The lupus disease process in a given organ is named after that organ; for example, inflammation of the kidneys is termed lupus nephritis, and inflammation of the brain is termed lupus cerebritis. Kidney involvement may be fatal. Over 50% of all systemic lupus patients in the United States presently have some degree of lupus cerebritis; 25–75% have neuropsychiatric symptoms at some time in their illness. Symptoms of lupus cerebritis may include headaches, seizures, stroke, psychosis, dementia, peripheral neuropathy, cerebellar ataxia (failure of muscular coordination, usually on one side of the body), chorea (jerky, involuntary movements), and others. Duration of central nervous system involvement may be transient (as with a migraine headache) or long lasting (as with dementia). Stroke incidence is 3–20% in systemic lupus patients, and is highest in the first five years of the disease. Peripheral neuropathy (carpal tunnel syndrome, for example) occurs in more than 20% of systemic lupus patients and cranial nerve palsies occur in 10–15%.

      Exposure to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight can trigger lupus or, in a person who already has the disease, cause it to flare up. Worsening flare-ups of the disease can be life threatening because they can include inflammation and failure of the kidneys. Also, declining memory and mental sharpness with long-term lupus is common.

    1. matador 89

      You asked for only three, but these are the most commonly suspected of which musculoskeletal pain is a symptom, Juvenile arthritis, the spondyloarthropathies, acute rheumatic fever, Henoch-Schönlein purpura, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

      Hope this helps
      Matador 89

  4. jaz mie

    what is SLE(Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)?
    please explain to me SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) more, so i can fully understand the illness.
    i want to know about the possibility of death on teenagers who suffer SLE.
    are there teenagers who’re aware of their illness and can already predict when they’ll pass away?
    are there cases like this?
    who are the persons who’re usually having SLE?
    what are the causes?symptoms?treatments?
    do they have medications?

    thanks!

    1. unny

      Systemic lupus erythematosus , often abbreviated to SLE or lupus, is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease (or autoimmune connective tissue disease) that can affect any part of the body. As occurs in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body’s cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage.

      SLE most often harms the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, and nervous system. The course of the disease is unpredictable, with periods of illness (called flares) alternating with remissions. The disease occurs nine times more often in women than in men, especially women in child-bearing years ages 15 to 35, and is more common in those of non-European descent.

      Treatment

      SLE is treatable through addressing its symptoms, mainly with cyclophosphamide, corticosteroids and immunosuppressants; there is currently no cure. SLE can be fatal, although with recent medical advances, fatalities are becoming increasingly rare. Survival for people with SLE in the United States, Canada, and Europe is approximately 95% at five years, 90% at 10 years, and 78% at 20 years.

      Symptoms

      SLE is one of several diseases known as “the great imitators” because it often mimics or is mistaken for other illnesses.[7] SLE is a classical item in differential diagnosis,[3] because SLE symptoms vary widely and come and go unpredictably. Diagnosis can thus be elusive, with some people suffering unexplained symptoms of untreated SLE for years.

      Common initial and chronic complaints include fever, malaise, joint pains, myalgias, fatigue, and temporary loss of cognitive abilities. Because they are so often seen with other diseases, these signs and symptoms are not part of the diagnostic criteria for SLE.

      Causes

      There is no one specific cause of SLE. There are, however, a number of environmental triggers and a number of genetic susceptibilities

    1. ska8ter

      Lupus

      Also called: Discoid lupus, Subacute cutaneous lupus, Systemic lupus erythematosus
      If you have lupus, your immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues by mistake. This can damage your joints, skin, blood vessels and organs. There are many kinds of lupus. The most common type, systemic lupus erythematosus, affects many parts of the body. Discoid lupus causes a rash that doesn’t go away. Subacute cutaneous lupus causes sores after being out in the sun. Another type can be caused by medication. Neonatal lupus, which is rare, affects newborns.

      Anyone can get lupus, but women are most at risk. Lupus is also more common in African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American women. The cause of lupus is not known.

      Lupus has many symptoms. Some common ones are

      Joint pain or swelling
      Muscle pain
      Fever with no known cause
      Red rashes, often on the face (also called the “butterfly rash”)
      There is no one test to diagnose lupus, and it may take months or years to make the diagnosis. There is no cure for lupus, but medicines and lifestyle changes can help control it.

      National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

      Start Here
      Frequently Asked Questions about Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Lupus(Patient Education Institute) – Requires Flash Player
      Also available in Spanish
      What Is Lupus?(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
      Also available in Spanish
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      Overviews
      Do I Have Lupus?(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
      Also available in Spanish
      JAMA Patient Page: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus(American Medical Association)
      Lupus(Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
      Lupus: Patient Information(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
      Systemic Lupus Erythematosus(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
      Latest News
      Medicaid Patients with Lupus Travel Farther to See Specialists(05/01/2007, American College of Rheumatology)
      Older, Lower Income Patients Least Likely to See a Specialist for Lupus(05/01/2007, American College of Rheumatology)
      Medicaid Patients with Lupus Travel Farther to See Doctors(04/30/2007, HealthDay)
      Diagnosis/Symptoms
      ANA (Antinuclear Antibody Test)(American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
      Diagnosis of Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Laboratory Tests Used in the Diagnosis of Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Also available in Spanish
      Symptoms of Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Treatment
      Arthritis Today’s Drug Guide(Arthritis Foundation)
      Immune Suppressants and Related Drugs Used for Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Medications(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)(Lupus Foundation of America)
      People with Lupus Taking COX-2 Selective NSAIDs Should Consult with Their Doctor(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Steroids in the Treatment of Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Coping
      Depression in Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Specific Conditions
      Discoid Lupus Erythematosus(American Osteopathic College of Dermatology)
      Drug-Induced Lupus Erythematosus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Related Issues
      Antiphospholipid Antibodies: Anticardiolipin Antibodies and the Lupus Anticoagulant in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Blood Disorders in Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Cardiopulmonary Disease and Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Flu Shots and Lupus Patients(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Immune System and Its Link to Rheumatic Diseases(American College of Rheumatology)
      Joint and Muscle Pain in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Also available in Spanish
      Kidney Disease and Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Lupus and Infections and Immunizations(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Lupus and Vasculitis(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Lupus in ‘Overlap’ with Other Connective Tissue Diseases(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Lupus Nephritis(National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
      Many Shades of Lupus(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
      Neurological Sequelae of Lupus(National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
      Photosensitivity and Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Sjogren’s Syndrome and Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Skin Disease in Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Systemic Lupus and the Nervous System(Lupus Foundation of America)
      What People with Lupus Need to Know about Osteoporosis(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
      Tutorials
      Lupus(Patient Education Institute) – Requires Flash Player
      Also available in Spanish
      Clinical Trials
      ClinicalTrials.gov: Lupus Erythematosus, Discoid(National Institutes of Health)
      ClinicalTrials.gov: Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic(National Institutes of Health)
      Genetics
      Scientists Identify Possible Lupus Susceptibility Gene(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
      Research
      Mortality in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus(Arthritis Foundation)
      Preliminary Research Shows Promise for Using Stem Cell Transplantation to Treat Patients with Severe Lupus(American Medical Association)
      Research Shows Common Virus Can Trigger Lupus(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
      Researchers Identify Biomarkers for Lupus-Related Kidney Disease(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
      Two Proteins Found to Have Unexpected Effects on Lupus(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
      Journal Articles
      References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

      Article: Systemic lupus erythematosus: current state of diagnosis and treatment.
      Article: Notes on the kidney and its diseases for the neurologist.
      Article: Exploring new territory: the move towards individualised treatment.
      Lupus — see more articles
      Cutaneous and discoid lupus — see more articles
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      American College of Rheumatology: Geographic Membership Directory(American College of Rheumatology)
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      Lupus Foundation of America
      National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
      Also available in Spanish
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      Eliminate Disparities in Lupus(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Minority Health)
      Lupus(National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion)
      Children
      Childhood Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Life with Lupus(Nemours Foundation)
      Living with Lupus(Nemours Foundation)
      Teenagers
      Lupus(Nemours Foundation)
      Men
      Lupus in Men(Lupus Foundation of America)
      Women
      Pregnancy & Rheumatic Disease(American College of Rheumatology)
      Pregnancy and Lupus(Lupus Foundation of America)
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    1. V

      he Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also called human herpesvirus 4 (HHV-4), is a cancer-causing virus of the herpes family, which includes herpes simplex virus 1 and 2, and is one of the most common viruses in humans. There is also strong evidence that the virus has a primary role in the pathogenesis of multiple autoimmune diseases, particularly dermatomyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and multiple sclerosis, and may also be associated with type 1 diabetes mellitus[1]. It is also known to cause several lymphoproliferative disorders and cancers, particularly Hodgkin’s disease, Burkitt’s lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and central nervous system lymphomas associated with HIV.[2] Most people become infected with EBV and gain adaptive immunity. In the United States, about half of all five-year-olds and 90–95% of adults have evidence of infection.

      Infants become susceptible to EBV as soon as maternal antibody protection disappears. Many children become infected with EBV, and these infections usually cause no symptoms or are indistinguishable from the other mild, brief illnesses of childhood. In the United States and in other developed countries, many persons are not infected with EBV in their childhood years. When infection with EBV occurs during adolescence or young adulthood, it causes infectious mononucleosis 35% to 69% of the time. In immunocompromised individuals, the Epstein-Barr virus can also present as an opportunistic infection known as hairy leukoplakia.

    1. Anonymous

      Fibromyalgia (fye-bro-my-AL-gee-ah) is an arthritis-related condition that is characterized by generalized muscular pain and fatigue. The term “fibromyalgia” means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. This condition is referred to as a “syndrome” because it’s a set of signs and symptoms that occur together.

      Fibromyalgia is especially confusing and often misunderstood condition. Because its symptoms are quite common and laboratory tests are generally normal, people with fibromyalgia were once told that their condition was “all in their head.” However, medical studies have proven that fibromyalgia does indeed exist, and it is estimated to affect about 2 percent of the U.S. population today.

      In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology, the official body of doctors who treat arthritis and related conditions, finally legitimized fibromyalgia in the medical community by presenting its criteria for diagnosing it. It is diagnosed when the you display the following symptoms:

      * A history of widespread pain (pain on both sides of the body and above and below the waist) that is present for at least three months
      * Pain in at least 11 of 18 tender-point sites.

      What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

      Most people with fibromyalgia have pain in their muscles, soft tissues, back, or neck, as well as sleep problems. Many people get so tired (fatigued) that they become weak. If pain and fatigue are severe enough, the person can become disabled. A more specific sign of fibromyalgia is the presence of up to 18 specific tender points on the body. These are painful only when you press directly on them.

      Although they are less common than pain, fatigue, and sleep problems, a variety of other symptoms may occur as well. These include headaches, morning stiffness, trouble concentrating, and irritable bowel syndrome. As with many conditions that cause chronic pain, it is common for people with fibromyalgia to have anxiety and depression. These can make symptoms worse.

      Symptoms tend to come and go. Times when they are constant (flares) may be followed by times when they occur less often with less intensity, or are absent (remissions). Some people find that their symptoms are worse in cold and damp weather, during times of stress, or when they try to do too much.

      How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

      Doctors diagnose fibromyalgia based on two things. One is widespread pain, defined as pain on both sides of the body above and below the waist. The other is tenderness in at least 11 of 18 tender points when pressed.

      How is fibromyalgia treated?

      There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but doctors can treat and control the symptoms. If you have fibromyalgia, you can help manage the symptoms by taking an active role in your treatment.

      Treatment may be different for each person. It can include:

      * Getting regular exercise to help with muscle aches and stiffness.
      * Changing your routine, schedule, and surroundings to improve your sleep habits and reduce stress.
      * Taking medicine to help you sleep better and to relieve pain.
      * Getting counseling to help you to manage long-term (chronic) pain and find better ways to handle stress.

      Some people with fibromyalgia also find complementary therapies helpful. These include acupuncture, massage, behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques.

      Who Gets Fibromyalgia?

      According to a paper published by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), fibromyalgia affects 3 to 6 million – or as many as one in 50 – Americans. For unknown reasons, between 80 and 90 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women; however, men and children also can be affected. Most people are diagnosed during middle age, although the symptoms often become present earlier in life.

      People with certain rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus), or ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis) may be more likely to have fibromyalgia, too.

      Several studies indicate that women who have a family member with fibromyalgia are more likely to have fibromyalgia themselves, but the exact reason for this—whether it be hereditary or caused by environmental factors or both—is unknown. One study supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is trying to identify if certain genes predispose some people to fibromyalgia. (See What Are Researchers Learning About Fibromyalgia?)

      What Causes Fibromyalgia?

      The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but there are probably a number of factors involved. Many people associate the development of fibromyalgia with a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event, such as an automobile accident. Some connect it to repetitive injuries. Others link it to an illness. People with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, are particularly likely to develop fibromyalgia. For others, fibromyalgia seems to occur spontaneously.

      Many researchers are examining other causes, including problems with how the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) processes pain.

      Some scientists speculate that a person’s genes may regulate the way his or her body processes painful stimuli. According to this theory, people with fibromyalgia may have a gene or genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful. However, those genes—if they, in fact, exist—have not been identified.

      How Is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

      Research shows that people with fibromyalgia typically see many doctors before receiving the diagnosis. One reason for this may be that pain and fatigue, the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, overlap with many other conditions. Therefore, doctors often have to rule out other potential causes of these symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Another reason is that there are currently no diagnostic laboratory tests for fibromyalgia; standard laboratory tests fail to reveal a physiologic reason for pain. Because there is no generally accepted, objective test for fibromyalgia, some doctors unfortunately may conclude a patient’s pain is not real, or they may tell the patient there is little they can do.

      A doctor familiar with fibromyalgia, however, can make a diagnosis based on two criteria established by the ACR: a history of widespread pain lasting more than 3 months and the presence of tender points. Pain is considered to be widespread when it affects all four quadrants of the body; that is, you must have pain in both your right and left sides as well as above and below the waist to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The ACR also has designated 18 sites on the body as possible tender points. For a fibromyalgia diagnosis, a person must have 11 or more tender points. (See illustration on page 5.) One of these predesignated sites is considered a true tender point only if the person feels pain upon the application of 4 kilograms of pressure to the site. People who have fibromyalgia certainly may feel pain at other sites, too, but those 18 standard possible sites on the body are the criteria used for classification.

      The location of the nine paired tender points that comprise the 1990 American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia
      The location of the nine paired tender points that
      comprise the 1990 American College of Rheumatology
      criteria for fibromyalgia.

      How Is Fibromyalgia Treated?

      Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat. Not all doctors are familiar with fibromyalgia and its treatment, so it is important to find a doctor who is. Many family physicians, general internists, or rheumatologists (doctors who specialize in arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints or soft tissues) can treat fibromyalgia.

      Fibromyalgia treatment often requires a team approach, with your doctor, a physical therapist, possibly other health professionals, and most importantly, yourself, all playing an active role. It can be hard to assemble this team, and you may struggle to find the right professionals to treat you. When you do, however, the combined expertise of these various professionals can help you improve your quality of life.

      You may find several members of the treatment team you need at a clinic. There are pain clinics that specialize in pain and rheumatology clinics that specialize in arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, including fibromyalgia.

      At present, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating fibromyalgia, although a few such drugs are in development. Doctors treat fibromyalgia with a variety of medications developed and approved for other purposes.

      Following are some of the most commonly used categories of drugs for fibromyalgia:

      Analgesics

      Analgesics are painkillers. They range from over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol*) to prescription medicines, such as tramadol (Ultram), and even stronger narcotic preparations. For a subset of people with fibromyalgia, narcotic medications are prescribed for severe muscle pain. However, there is no solid evidence showing that narcotics actually work to treat the chronic pain of fibromyalgia, and most doctors hesitate to prescribe them for long-term use because of the potential that the person taking them will become physically or psychologically dependent on them.

      * Brand names included in this booklet are provided as examples only, and their inclusion does not mean that these products are endorsed by the National Institutes of Health or any other Government agency. Also, if a particular brand name is not mentioned, this does not mean or imply that the product is unsatisfactory.

      Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

      As their name implies, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen sodium (Anaprox, Aleve), are used to treat inflammation. Although inflammation is not a symptom of fibromyalgia, NSAIDs also relieve pain. The drugs work by inhibiting substances in the body called prostaglandins, which play a role in pain and inflammation. These medications, some of which are available without a prescription, may help ease the muscle aches of fibromyalgia. They may also relieve menstrual cramps and the headaches often associated with fibromyalgia.

      Antidepressants

      Perhaps the most useful medications for fibromyalgia are several in the antidepressant class. Antidepressants elevate the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, including serotonin and norepinephrine (which was formerly called adrenaline). Low levels of these chemicals are associated not only with depression, but also with pain and fatigue. Increasing the levels of these chemicals can reduce pain in people who have fibromyalgia. Doctors prescribe several types of antidepressants for people with fibromyalgia, described below.

      *

      Tricyclic antidepressants—When taken at bedtime in dosages lower than those used to treat depression, tricyclic antidepressants can help promote restorative sleep in people with fibromyalgia. They also can relax painful muscles and heighten the effects of the body’s natural pain-killing substances called endorphins.

      Tricyclic antidepressants have been around for almost half a century. Some examples of tricyclic medications used to treat fibromyalgia include amitriptyline hydrochloride (Elavil, Endep), cyclobenzaprine (Cycloflex, Flexeril, Flexiban), doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan), and nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor). Both amitriptyline and cyclobenzaprine have been proved useful for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
      *

      Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors—If a tricyclic antidepressant fails to bring relief, doctors sometimes prescribe a newer type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). As with tricyclics, doctors usually prescribe these for people with fibromyalgia in lower dosages than are used to treat depression. By promoting the release of serotonin, these drugs may reduce fatigue and some other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. The group of SSRIs includes fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft).

      SSRIs may be prescribed along with a tricyclic antidepressant. Doctors rarely prescribe SSRIs alone. Because they make people feel more energetic, they also interfere with sleep, which often is already a problem for people with fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that a combination therapy of the tricyclic amitriptyline and the SSRI fluoxetine resulted in greater improvements in the study participants’ fibromyalgia symptoms than either drug alone.
      *

      Mixed reuptake inhibitors—Some newer antidepressants raise levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine, and are therefore called mixed reuptake inhibitors. Examples of these medications include venlafaxine (Effexor) and nefazadone (Serzone). Researchers are actively studying the efficacy of these newer medications in treating fibromyalgia.

      Benzodiazepines

      Benzodiazepines help some people with fibromyalgia by relaxing tense, painful muscles and stabilizing the erratic brain waves that can interfere with deep sleep. Benzodiazepines also can relieve the symptoms of restless legs syndrome, which is common among people with fibromyalgia. Restless legs syndrome is characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs as well as twitching, particularly at night. Because of the potential for addiction, doctors usually prescribe benzodiazepines only for people who have not responded to other therapies. Benzodiazepines include clonazepam (Klonopin) and diazepam (Valium).

      Other medications

      In addition to the previously described general categories of drugs, doctors may prescribe others, depending on a person’s specific symptoms or fibromyalgia-related conditions. For example, in recent years, two medications— tegaserod (Zelnorm) and alosetron (Lotronex) – have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Gabapentin (Neurontin) currently is being studied as a treatment for fibromyalgia. (See What Are Researchers Learning About Fibromyalgia?.) Other symptom-specific medications include sleep medications, muscle relaxants, and headache remedies.

      People with fibromyalgia also may benefit from a combination of physical and occupational therapy, from learning pain-management and coping techniques, and from properly balancing rest and activity.

      Complementary and alternative therapies

      Many people with fibromyalgia also report varying degrees of success with complementary and alternative therapies, including massage, movement therapies (such as Pilates and the Feldenkrais method), chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, and various herbs and dietary supplements for different fibromyalgia symptoms. (For more information on complementary and alternative therapies, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. See Where Can I Get More Information About Fibromyalgia?.)

      Though some of these supplements are being studied for fibromyalgia, there is little, if any, scientific proof yet that they help. The FDA does not regulate the sale of dietary supplements, so information about side effects, the proper 12 dosage, and the amount of a preparation’s active ingredient may not be well known. If you are using or would like to try a complementary or alternative therapy, you should first speak with your doctor, who may know more about the therapy’s effectiveness, as well as whether it is safe to try in combination with your medications.

      Will Fibromyalgia Get Better With Time?

      Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, meaning it lasts a long time – possibly a lifetime. However, it may comfort you to know that fibromyalgia is not a progressive disease. It is never fatal, and it won’t cause damage to your joints, muscles, or internal organs. In many people, the condition does improve over time.

      What Can I Do To Try To Feel Better?

      Besides taking medicine prescribed by your doctor, there are many things you can do to minimize the impact of fibromyalgia on your life. These include:

      * Getting enough sleep—Getting enough sleep and the right kind of sleep can help ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. (See Tips for Good Sleep.) Even so, many people with fibromyalgia have problems such as pain, restless legs syndrome, or brain-wave irregularities that interfere with restful sleep.
      * Exercising—Though pain and fatigue may make exercise and daily activities difficult, it’s crucial to be as physically active as possible. Research has repeatedly shown that regular exercise is one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia. People who have too much pain or fatigue to do vigorous exercise should begin with walking or other gentle exercise and build their endurance and intensity slowly. Although research has focused largely on the benefits of aerobic and flexibility exercises, a new NIAMS-supported study is examining the effects of adding strength training to the traditionally prescribed aerobic and flexibility exercises.
      *

      Making changes at work—Most people with fibromyalgia continue to work, but they may have to make big changes to do so; for example, some people cut down the number of hours they work, switch to a less demanding job, or adapt a current job. If you face obstacles at work, such as an uncomfortable desk chair that leaves your back aching or difficulty lifting heavy boxes or files, your employer may make adaptations that will enable you to keep your job. An occupational therapist can help you design a more comfortable workstation or find more efficient and less painful ways to lift.

      If you are unable to work at all due to a medical condition, you may qualify for disability benefits through your employer or the Federal Government.

      Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) are the largest Federal programs providing financial assistance to people with disabilities. Though the medical requirements for eligibility are the same under the two programs, the way they are funded is different. SSDI is paid by Social Security taxes, and those who qualify for assistance receive benefits based on how much an employee has paid into the system; SSI is funded by general tax revenues, and those who qualify receive payments based on financial need. For information about the SSDI and SSI programs, contact the Social Security Administration. (See Where Can I Get More Information About Fibromyalgia?.)
      * Eating well—Although some people with fibromyalgia report feeling better when they eat or avoid certain foods, no specific diet has been proven to influence fibromyalgia. Of course, it is important to have a healthy, balanced diet. Not only will proper nutrition give you more energy and make you generally feel better, it will also help you avoid other health problems.

      Tips for Good Sleep

      * Keep regular sleep habits. Try to get to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day—even on weekends and vacations.
      * Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. If consumed too close to bedtime, the caffeine in coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and some medications can keep you from sleeping or sleeping soundly. Even though it can make you feel sleepy, drinking alcohol around bedtime also can disturb sleep.
      * Time your exercise. Regular daytime exercise can improve nighttime sleep. But avoid exercising within 3 hours of bedtime, which actually can be stimulating, keeping you awake.
      * Avoid daytime naps. Sleeping in the afternoon can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you feel you can’t get by without a nap, set an alarm for 1 hour. When it goes off, get up and start moving.
      * Reserve your bed for sleeping. Watching the late news, reading a suspense novel, or working on your laptop in bed can stimulate you, making it hard to sleep.
      * Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool.
      * Avoid liquids and spicy meals before bed. Heartburn and latenight trips to the bathroom are not conducive to good sleep.
      * Wind down before bed. Avoid working right up to bedtime. Do relaxing activities, such as listening to soft music or taking a warm bath, that get you ready to sleep. (An added benefit of the warm bath: It may soothe aching muscles.)

      What Are Researchers Learning About Fibromyalgia?

      The NIAMS sponsors research that will improve scientists’ understanding of the specific problems that cause or accompany fibromyalgia, in turn helping them develop better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent this syndrome.

      The research on fibromyalgia supported by NIAMS covers a broad spectrum, ranging from basic laboratory research to studies of medications and interventions designed to encourage behaviors that reduce pain and change behaviors that worsen or perpetuate pain.

      Following are descriptions of some of the promising research now being conducted:

      *

      Understanding pain—Because research suggests that fibromyalgia is caused by a problem in how the body processes pain—or more precisely, a hypersensitivity to stimuli that normally are not painful—several NIAMS-supported researchers are focusing on ways the body processes pain to better understand why people with fibromyalgia have increased pain sensitivity.

      Previous research has shown that people with fibromyalgia have reduced blood flow to parts of the brain that normally help the body deal with pain. In one new NIAMS-funded study, researchers will be using imaging technology called positron emission tomography (PET) to compare blood flow in the brains of women who have have fibromyalgia with those who do not. In both groups, researchers will study changes in blood flow that occur in response to painful stimuli.

      Researchers speculate that female reproductive hormones may be involved in the increased sensitivity to pain characteristic of fibromyalgia. New research will examine the role of sex hormones in pain sensitivity, in reaction to stress, and in symptom perception at various points in the menstrual cycles of women with fibromyalgia and of women without it. The results from studying these groups of women will be compared with results from studies of the same factors in men without fibromyalgia over an equivalent period of time.

      Another line of NIAMS-funded research involves developing a rodent model of fibromyalgia pain. Rodent models, which use mice or rats that researchers cause to develop symptoms similar to fibromyalgia in humans, could provide the basis for future research into this complex condition.
      *

      Understanding stress—Medical evidence suggests that a problem or problems in the way the body responds to physical and/or emotional stress may trigger or worsen the symptoms of any illness, including fibromyalgia. Researchers funded by NIAMS are trying to uncover and understand these problems by examining chemical interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine (hormonal) system. Scientists know that people whose bodies make inadequate amounts of the hormone cortisol experience many of the same symptoms as people with fibromyalgia, so they also are exploring if there is a link between the regulation of the adrenal glands, which produce cortisol, and fibromyalgia.

      Another NIAMS-funded study suggests that exercise improves the body’s response to stress by enhancing the function of the pituitary and adrenal glands. The hormones produced by these two endocrine glands are essential to regulating sleep and emotions, as well as processing pain.
      *

      Improving sleep—Researchers supported by NIAMS are investigating ways to improve sleep for people with fibromyalgia whose sleep problems persist despite treatment with medications. One team has observed that fibromyalgia patients with persistent sleep problems share characteristics with people who have insomnia, such as having erratic sleep and wake schedules and spending too much time in bed. This team is testing whether strategies developed to help insomnia patients will also help people with fibromyalgia achieve deep sleep, which eases pain and fatigue. Preliminary results show that sleep education, which teaches good sleep habits, and cognitive behavioral therapy, which includes sleep education and a regimen to correct poor habits and improper sleep schedules, both reduce insomnia.
      *

      Looking for the family connection—Because fibromyalgia appears to run in families, one group of NIAMS-supported researchers is working to identify whether a gene or genes predispose people to the condition.

      Another team is trying to determine if fibromyalgia is more common in people with other conditions, such as serious mood disorders, that tend to run in families. Specifically, the group is studying the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and arthritis and related disorders in people with fibromyalgia and their first-degree relatives (parents, children, sisters, brothers) as compared to people with rheumatoid arthritis and their relatives. The group is exploring whether clusters of conditions exist in families, which might shed light on shared common risk factors or disease processes.
      *

      Studying and targeting treatments—NIAMS recently funded its first study of a drug treatment for fibromyalgia. The study will measure the effectiveness of gabapentin, an anticonvulsant medication, in reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia. Gabapentin has been found to relieve chronic pain caused by nervous system disorders, and it was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of persistent, severe pain that can follow an episode of shingles.

      Scientists recognize that people with fibromyalgia often fall into distinct subgroups that adapt to and cope with their symptoms differently. They also realize that these subgroups may respond to treatments differently. One NIAMS-funded team of researchers has divided people with fibromyalgia into three groups based on how they cope with the condition. Relative to other chronic pain patients, those in the first group have higher levels of pain and report more interference in their life due to pain. They also have higher levels of emotional distress, and feel less control over their lives and are less active. The second group reports receiving less support from others, higher levels of negative responses from significant others, and lower levels of supportive responses from significant others. Those in the third group are considered adaptive copers; they have less pain, report less interference in their lives due to pain, and have less emotional distress. Members of this last group feel more control over their lives and are more active. On the premise that the better you understand the subgroups, the better you can tailor treatments to fit them, the researchers now are trying to design and test different programs for each group, combining physical therapy, interpersonal skills training, and supportive counseling.

      Recognizing the Symptoms

      Based on the research findings of twenty clinical investigators throughout the United States and Canada, in 1990 the American College of Rheumatology established guidelines for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The guidelines are simple: widespread aching that lasts more than three months and local tenderness at eleven of eighteen specified sites. Laboratory tests and x-rays are not required to establish a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

      Pain is the foremost symptom of fibromyalgia. It occurs in the soft tissue and has been described as burning, gnawing, sore, stiff, shooting, deep aching, or radiating. The pain may vary in intensity according to the time of day, weather, activity level, stress, and sleep patterns. Usually a person is stiff upon awakening and may hurt all over to the point of being unable to function normally. Muscle spasms and cramping, more common at night, often keep a person from sleeping soundly.

      Tender points have become the hallmark for diagnosing fibromyalgia (see Figure 1). These are points identical in all persons with fibromyalgia that when pressed are painful. Eighteen tender points have been identified. All points may not be painful at all times in every person. Tender points hurt only when pressed. Some persons may not realize they have these points until a physician presses on them during examination.

      Sleep disturbances occur in 90 percent of persons with FMS. The fourth stage of sleep, deep sleep, which is necessary for muscles and other body tissues to regenerate, is deficient. Muscle pain occurs, it is believed, because muscles are deprived of proper rest in persons with FMS. The pattern of insomnia varies. Some may have trouble falling asleep, may wake up often during the night and be unable to fall back to sleep, toss, turn, and wake up earlier than is necessary.

      Fatigue, another symptom, may occur in the early afternoon or all day long preventing normal functioning. At the end of the day, a person may be completely exhausted and need a good night’s sleep but because of sleep disturbances does not get that sleep.

      Neurological symptoms occur in about one-fourth of persons with fibromyalgia. Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs are common. No one knows why these sensations happen and no specific treatment exists.

      Forty percent of persons with fibromyalgia suffer from often severe tension headaches as well as migraines.

      Irritable bowel syndrome is another symptom that occurs in about 30 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers. Intermittent bouts of diarrhea, constipation, cramps, bloating, gas, and other digestive problems can be managed by adjusting the diet and using over-the-counter medications.

      Interstitial cystitis (IC) can also occur in women with fibromyalgia. IC is an inflammatory disorder affecting the bladder wall causing frequent urination, urgent urination, pelvic pain relieved by urination, burning on urination, and difficult urination. When it becomes the major symptom, a patient may be referred to a urologist for treatment.

      Some persons with fibromyalgia experience sensations of swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles when no actual swelling is noticeable.

      Joint pain in the hands, wrists, elbows, neck, chest wall, hip, knees, ankles, and feet is often reported by persons with FMS. The pain is not actually in the joint but over the joint in the tendon.

      One-third of persons with fibromyalgia report pain in the chest wall particularly where the rib cartilage joins the breastbone.

      Cold temperatures affect around 40 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers. Small blood vessels overrespond to coldness changing the color of the area from white to blue, then red. Tingling, pain, and numbness may also be present.

      Investigating the Causes

      Standard laboratory tests of the past did not show abnormalities in persons with fibromyalgia. Physicians are now using tests that were formerly only used in clinical trials. These newer tests are revealing and confirming laboratory abnormalities in persons with fibromyalgia.

      Chemical analysis of muscle tissue taken from fibromyalgia sufferers reveals that high energy phosphate may be abnormal at the spot in the muscle with the greatest tenderness when pressed.

      Figure 1
      Locations of pressure-tender points

      One theory about muscle abnormalities is that muscles undergo microtrauma during normal daily activities but are repaired during the fourth stage of sleep. In persons with fibromyalgia, restorative fourth stage sleep does not occur properly. In addition, an insulin-like growth factor, secreted by the liver upon release of growth hormone by the brain, is deficient in fibromyalgia. So, muscle repair may be delayed or defective because the fibromyalgia sufferer does not fall into a deep sleep and the insulin like growth factor that repairs the muscle during sleep is deficient.

      Other theories about the cause of fibromyalgia involve physical or emotional trauma, such as a car accident or virus, physical or sexual abuse, stress, depression, or neurochemical factors acting as triggers.

      Theories about the pain of fibromyalgia focus on the perception of pain and how the message of pain travels to the brain. The pain of fibromyalgia is called alldynia, which means long-standing increase in pain perception. The pain threshold in fibromyalgia appears to be lower. This may result from a malfunctioning transmission of the pain signal in the nerves, spinal cord, and brain, thereby magnifying the pain signal so a larger amount of pain is felt than actually exists.

      These are all theories about the causes of fibromyalgia. More research needs to be conducted to determine the actual cause of fibromyalgia and to provide an understanding of how it actually works.

      Determining the Prognosis

      The good news is that people with fibromyalgia do not generally have serious long-term arthritis or crippling ailments. In other words, fibromyalgia is not the beginning of a serious rheumatic disease. You may hurt a lot or incur chronic fatigue, but you will not have to deal with joints that are damaged later. Many people who have RA, OA, or something similar may have secondary fibromyalgia, but the point is that they had RA first and fibromyalgia later, not the reverse. One puzzling aspect of the prognosis is that when women with fibromyalgia become pregnant, the symptoms can go away during the pregnancy, just as with RA.

      A Course of Treatment

      In general, though fibromyalgia waxes and wanes with the years, it stays and stays and stays. This is an important factor for you to understand because there are things you can do to get on with your life: First, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Take charge of your life and set goals. Start by getting out of bed, no matter how much it hurts. No matter how tired you are, you can begin doing something. You must begin by building your endurance again. Many folks respond that it’s well and good to give a pep talk about getting on with life, and they agree that the pain is bearable. But — and this is a big but — being constantly tired is what prevents a semblance of normal activity. So what do you do? We recommend swimming every day with the AquaJogger as the best way to get started. This is a water buoyancy belt that fits around your waist and holds you up in the water. The belt costs about $50. There is also a videocassette that outlines your workout in the water for about $20. The AquaJogger is really useful, especially if you use it regularly and consistently. On the first day, aquajog only a few minutes, then increase the time daily to build up your strength and endurance. You can order the AquaJogger by calling 1-800-922-9544. (For more information on using the AquaJogger, see pages 146-148.)

      Next, ask friends, relatives, or even health professionals to help you find a quality health club with first-rate and certified exercise trainers. Have your trainer help you create an exercise program, and follow the program every day for half an hour or so. After you have a program, don’t feel locked in with a trainer forever. Once you know the ropes, you can wing it on your own and limit paying the trainer to periodic sessions, since your health insurance probably won’t cover it. File a claim for it anyway; some insurance companies understand the necessity for exercise treatment.

      The fourth thing to do is to make your sleep as comfortable as possible. You may wish to consider a waterbed. Waterbeds have come a long way in design since the early days; they now have cylinders or tubes of thick vinyl about four inches wide running lengthwise, and you can make them as firm or soft as you want, anytime you want. They also have heaters for each side of the bed, and the cost is about half that of a quality mattress and springs. A 1989 Gallup poll among waterbed users and regular mattress users revealed that the waterbed won hands down in relieving back pain. Older people, in fact, are now the main buyers of waterbeds. You can rent one at some places to see how you like it. The purpose, of course, is to see whether you get more rest and wake up rejuvenated instead of nonrejuvenated.

      Last, to counter pain, fatigue, and nonrejuvenating sleep, I don’t recommend NSAIDs as your primary therapy. For whatever reason, the aspirins, the Advils, the Voltarens, and the Naprosyns don’t really seem to work, nor do any of the other fifteen or more NSAIDs on the market. Instead, you have to focus on exercise.

      The tricyclic medicines, however, are useful for people with fibromyalgia. There are several medicines in the tricyclic group, but you can’t take all of them. Ask your doctor about Elavil (amitriptyline) and Sinequan (doxepin); both have several actions and are principally used to help stressed people. They also have physiologic effects on the nervous system that may explain the improvement in fatigue and nonrejuvenating sleep that occurs in many people with fibromyalgia. The medicines are generally taken at night, but you must be supervised by your doctor.

      In the long run, though, remember that the only person who can help is yourself. Plan an exercise program — preferably one with a pool — and start today.

      Once upon a time there was a young man, who was very much in love with the daughter from a nearby house. The parents of the daughter stood in between them and forbid their daughter ever to marry such a poor crofter’s lad that he was. But the courter was a very ingenious young man. He remembered that he once had been given a stone by a wich, and anyone blowing on the stone immediately began to fart.

      At the fiencée’s house the daughter usually got up earlier than the other in the morning to make coffee. When the young man noticed this, he came unnoticed late one evening and put the stone under the stove. When the daughter the next morning came to put fire in the stove, she blew on the coal to get the fire going. The magic from the stone was so strong, that she couldn’t blow a single puff without farting and farting.

      When the others didn’t get their coffee, the mother came to the kitchen to see what had happened. There she saw her daughter by the stove farting. The mother began scolding her, pushed her away to make the fire herself – and it didn’t take long before she was standing beside her daughter with the same farting disease.

      Finally the fathe got up, came out into the kitchen, started blowing on the coals, but became as his daughter and wife. When they all had gotten the same illness they thought that the devil had moved into theri house. So they sent for the priest to chase the devil out. And, what happened? He caught the bug!

      The priest couldn’t stay like this, so after his sermon he proclaimed that the one making him better from the fartyfartdisease will get half of his yearly wages.

      Suddenly the father got up, and shouted: ”And the one who can cure me from this fartyfartdisease will get my house and my daughter!” The young man happened to sit next to the father in church and asked him: ”Do you keep your promises?” ”Under all circumstances!”, the father replied. So, the courter went to the house and took away the stone from the stove. And at that instant everyones was cured! The poor crofter’s lad became a rich man, with both a house and half of the priest’s wages. And when he also got to marry the love of his life, then it was really worth living!

  5. meggg(:

    i have been diagnosed with lupus, what is lupus?
    im a 15 yr old female and i have been diagnosed with lupus. my doctor tried to explain but it just made no sense, what is it? is it potentially life threatening? etc

    1. newbe

      Lupus is an illness that mainly affects women during their child-bearing years. It is caused by a fault in the body’s immune system. The immune system normally protects us by fighting infections. In people with autoimmune diseases (of which lupus is one example), the immune system starts to attack body tissues (‘auto’ means ‘self’). This causes inflammation in those tissues. The effect this will have depends on which part of the body has been attacked by the immune system. This means that different people with lupus have different symptoms, depending on which part of the body is being attacked. For example, where the skin is attacked the main symptom is a rash, but if the joints are attacked the main symptom is joint pain.

      The effect of lupus therefore varies greatly from person to person. For many people lupus represents little more than a nuisance condition, but for some the disease is very troublesome, even life-threatening. This uncertainty is a challenge for both the individual and the doctors who are trying to help.

      There are two main forms of lupus. One form is called discoid lupus. This form affects only the skin. The other form, systemic lupus, involves the skin and joints and may involve internal organs such as the heart or kidney as well. The full name of this is systemic lupus erythematosus. This booklet deals only with systemic lupus erythematosus (sometimes shortened to SLE). Wherever the word lupus appears in this booklet, it means SLE, not discoid lupus.

  6. Mommy_2_b

    OK im pregnant and i have Lupus?
    Ok i am 13 weeks and 5 days pregnant with my first child. I was diagnosed with Lupus when i was 10 years old. I have to go to the Lupus center at Magee Womens Hospital because i am pregnant. I want to know what to exspect at the appoinment. What will they do? And is there any complication when you have lupus and are pregnant? All answers are greatly appreciated!

    1. Polar Bears Wifey

      Lupus and Pregnancy

      A woman who has lupus can have a child, though lupus pregnancies are never easy. However, due to early diagnosis, improved prognosis, and changed attitudes, pregnancies in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which were once rare, are now commonplace.

      Because doctors used to counsel all pregnant women with SLE to undergo therapeutic abortion, the information about lupus and pregnancy available to patients, their families, and their physicians until recently was very limited. Several new studies now provide some answers. This article lists the most commonly asked questions of lupus patients considering pregnancy and answers them citing results of the newest studies.

      Will I Be Able To Conceive?

      Fertility (the ability to become pregnant) is normal for most lupus patients. Pregnancy is not likely to occur the first time a patient with lupus has unprotected intercourse, however. It often takes healthy couples up to a year of trying to become pregnant.

      Even severe illness usually does not make women sterile, but some of the drugs used to treat lupus – cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) is the most well known – do reduce fertility. High doses of prednisone often stop a woman’s menstrual periods, but patients taking this drug can become pregnant. Thus, unless a woman has been specifically tested and found to be infertile, she should use contraceptives if she wants to avoid pregnancy.

      Does Lupus Flare During Pregnancy?

      Although textbooks used to say that pregnancy is dangerous for all patients with SLE, since few lupus patients had been allowed to carry their pregnancies, the warning was based on very little solid information. Beginning in the 1980s, several groups of physicians re-examined the issue of lupus and pregnancy, and some things are now clearly understood. First, many lupus patients have no trouble at all with pregnancy. Second, some changes that happen to pregnant women appear to be a flare of lupus but, in fact, are common pregnancy complications not related to lupus. Third, some lupus patients do flare during pregnancy. Whether the number of flares is greater than might be seen if the women were not pregnant is a point about which physicians disagree.

      One of the problems of deciding whether flares occur more often in pregnant patients with SLE is that doctors aren’t very clear about how often flares usually occur in women who are not pregnant. When doctors compare pregnant lupus patients with lupus patients that are not pregnant, and all factors are considered – age, race, duration of illness, and type and severity of illness – it appears that pregnant women develop flares about as often as do women who are not pregnant. However, when lupus patients’ flare rates the year of their pregnancy and the preceding year are compared, studies suggest that flare rates for individual women are higher during pregnancy. Women who have quiet disease at the beginning of pregnancy may be protected from flare during pregnancy.

      Although it is hard to understand why these apparently contradictory opinions exist, it turns out that such simple factors as when, why, and how a woman is identified for a study explain the different results. Some studies, which enroll women because they have symptoms of lupus during pregnancy, find a high flare rate during pregnancy. This study usually comes from a pregnancy clinic in which obstetricians call the rheumatologist conducting the study to tell him or her that a new pregnant lupus patient has been identified. Other studies enroll women who are considering pregnancy. In this case, the rheumatologist usually calls the obstetrician conducting the study to inform him or her that a known patient has become pregnant. This type of study most often finds a low flare rate. In neither case are the patients representative of all lupus patients. The women considering pregnancy have often chosen the time for pregnancy during a period when they are well; and the women with symptoms might not have been identified had they been in complete remission. Unfortunately, there is not yet a clear answer to the question of whether or not the risk of flare is increased by pregnancy.

      Although doctors do not agree about the flare risk, they do agree that serious flares are uncommon during pregnancy, that flares in pregnant women can be treated, and that in most cases, pregnancies in those with lupus can continue, even if a flare occurs.

      Treatment of the pregnant lupus patient is usually determined by the mother’s health and is similar to treatment of patients who are not pregnant. There is no need to treat the mother prophylactically – that is, when she is well – to prevent a flare.

      If I Am Pregnant, Will Flares Be Difficult To Identify?

      Identifying a flare in a pregnant woman is sometimes difficult because normal effects of pregnancy may look like flares, and because some ways of diagnosing flares are changed by pregnancy. For instance, a decrease in platelet count or an increase in urine protein, both of which indicate a flare in a lupus patient, can occur in any healthy pregnant woman. Even with special tests, the doctors may not be able to tell whether the findings also indicate that lupus is worsening. On the other hand, a high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, sed rate), which indicates active SLE, is normal in any pregnancy. Thus, doctors have different rules to judge disease activity in a pregnant lupus patient than they do in someone who is not pregnant.

      What Drugs Can I Take During Pregnancy?

      It is best, if possible, to take no drugs during pregnancy, but active lupus is worse for the baby than are some commonly used lupus drugs. In no case should the mother’s lupus be allowed to worsen during pregnancy simply to reduce the amount of the drugs she takes.

      Among drugs used for lupus, aspirin and prednisone are both considered safe to take during pregnancy. There is a debate about the safety of hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and azathioprine (Imuran). No major effects on newborns have been reported, but there has not been much experience with the use of these drugs.

      Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) causes fetal malformations and miscarriages; it should not be used during pregnancy. Corticosteroid preparations other than prednisone may affect the baby and should not be used. The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be safe, but they have not been studied well. I advise not using them.

      Will My Kidney Disease Worsen During Pregancy?

      About one-half of lupus patients have some degree of kidney disease. The worse it is, the more likely it is that there will be problems during pregnancy. The most common problem that occurs in women with kidney disease is a complication of pregnancy called toxemia, or pre-eclampsia. In this condition, the blood pressure rises, protein is excreted in the urine, and fluid collects in the legs and elsewhere. The most effective treatment is for doctors to deliver the baby as soon as possible, even if the baby is premature.

      Although women with very severe kidney disease – even those who require dialysis – can carry a pregnancy, the risks to both the baby and the mother are very high. As a general rule, if a woman’s blood pressure before pregnancy is high enough to need strong medications to keep it normal, or if the kidney function measured by creatinine clearance is more than 25 percent less than normal, pregnancy will likely be a problem.

      If a woman with any type of kidney problem gets pregnant, she should be closely monitored throughout her pregnancy by her nephrologist, rheumatologist and obstetrician.

      How Will I Be Monitored During My Pregnancy?

      There are two types of monitoring, one for the mother and one for the unborn child. For the mother, monthly visits (sometimes more frequent visits) to check for new symptoms and to check urine and blood for signs of lupus activity are often required. The most important factors to watch are the red blood cell count, platelet count and urine protein. At the beginning of pregnancy, all standard lupus tests are conducted, and antiphospholipid antibody and anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB antibody levels are determined in order to ensure that the mother is healthy, and so doctors can watch for changes during the pregnancy.

      The fetus is usually checked with an ultrasound test at the beginning of pregnancy, and its growth is monitored by either palpation (feeling the abdomen to determine how big the uterus has become) or by repeated ultrasound tests. In women with anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB antibodies, an ultrasound test or a fetal electrocardiogram (done from outside the mother’s abdomen) may also be used to examine for normality of the heartbeat. At approximately twenty-five weeks (six months), especially in women with antiphospholipid antibody or with active SLE, a series of tests for the baby’s general health begin. None of these tests are invasive, nor are they painful or dangerous to the mother or the baby. Depending on the situation, they might be done one time only, or they might be done weekly or daily.

      SLE itself does not mandate the need for an amniocentesis to be performed (taking a small amount of amniotic fluid through a needle to determine the health of the baby) but amniocentesis might be done for other reasons. If the mother is over the age of thirty-five, for example, an amniocentesis may be performed. Late in pregnancy, if early delivery is likely, amniocentesis might be done to determine if the baby’s lungs have matured.

      Are There Any Risks To The Baby?

      There are several risks involved in having a baby when you have lupus, but if the disease is monitored closely during the pregnancy, it is quite likely that your baby will be born healthy. There are no specific genetic risks for the child of a woman with SLE. The frequency of Down’s syndrome or other malformations is not higher than in the general population. The major risk to the baby is that it will die before it is born (miscarriage). This risk occurs primarily in mothers whose blood contains antiphospholipid antibody.

      There are specific concerns that prospective mothers may have about the effects of their lupus on their unborn child.

      Will My Baby Be Born Prematurely?

      Premature birth is a risk when the mother has antiphospholipid antibody, when she is very ill, or when the mother develops toxemia. Premature babies have a higher risk of brain damage than do babies born at term. Generally, babies born weighing more than 3 pounds 5 ounces have few problems, though babies weighing less than 2 pounds 3 ounces are at high risk. However, I have seen babies born at 1 pound 7 ounces grow to be perfectly normal. Different clinics report different rates of prematurity. Although prematurity rates as high as 50 percent have been reported, most babies weighing more than 3 pounds 5 ounces at birth do well.

      Will My Lupus Affect My Baby’s Intellectual Development?

      In the first few months of life, the growth and development of babies born to mothers with SLE seem normal, taking into account that many of them have been born prematurely. There is very little information available about babies beyond the toddler stage. We have re-examined children between five and eight years old. By and large they are doing well in school – some extremely well – and they look like any average group of children of this age. Early fears that there would be a high frequency of brain injury in children born to mothers with lupus do not appear to be justified, but questions about a frequency of mild reading disorders are not yet fully answered.

      What is Neonatal Lupus And Will My Child Be More Likely To Have It?

      Approximately one-third of women with SLE have anti-Ro/SSA and / or anti-La/SSB antibodies. The children of these women can develop a condition known as neonatal lupus.

      Neonatal lupus is not SLE and does not turn into SLE. It consists mostly of a rash, often brought about by sun exposure, that lasts a few weeks and then disappears leaving no trace. Babies sometimes have abnormalities of their blood counts that usually need no treatment, since the counts return to normal spontaneously.

      A rare manifestation of neonatal lupus, called heart block, is more serious. In this condition, the baby develops a very slow heartbeat and sometimes needs a pacemaker after birth. This problem can usually be identified by fetal electrocardiograms or echocardiograms performed between the eighteenth and twenty-fifth weeks of pregnancy. But even if identified, the slow heartbeat cannot be readily treated before birth. The baby’s general health is monitored throughout the rest of the pregnancy, and he or she generally will be delivered if in trouble. Fewer than one percent of all lupus patients, and fewer than 3 percent of all women with antibodies to both Ro/SSA and La/SSB antigens, deliver babies with this problem. Babies of mothers who have antibodies to neither or to only one of the antigens are not at risk for this heart problem.

      Will My Baby Develop Lupus?

      The risk that the baby of a mother with lupus will develop lupus is the same as the risk that the mother’s brothers or sisters or parents will develop lupus. Most doctors think this risk is about one percent. Since the neonatal lupus syndrome has been only recently identified, follow-up studies of children who have had neonatal lupus is quite sparse, but there have been no specific early warnings that these children are any more susceptible to develop adult lupus than are children who have not had neonatal lupus.

      What Is Antiphospholipid Antibody, And How Does It Affect Pregnancy?

      Antiphospholipid antibodies attack phospholipids, which are components of cell membranes. There are several different types of antiphospholipid antibodies, including the anticardiolipin antibody and the lupus anticoagulant. Anticardiolipin antibody was the first antiphospholipid antibody described, so the term was once used to describe all antiphospholipid antibodies; however, antibodies can be found against many other phospholipids, so the general term antiphospholipid antibody is now preferred. Some lupus patients have an abnormality in a common blood clotting test that is often used before surgery, but their coagulation (blood clotting) is normal. This abnormality is due to an antiphospholipid antibody called the lupus anticoagulant. Pregnant patients who have the antiphospholipid antibody – about one-third of lupus patients – may miscarry between the fourth and seventh months. The miscarriages seem to be caused by excessive blood clotting in the placenta. Many patients who have antiphospholipid antibodies do not actually have lupus as we now diagnose it. Doctors use the term primary antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (PAPS) to describe those patients who have the antibody but do not have SLE. Antiphospholipid antibodies are not related to any other autoantibody (antibodies against components of one’s own body) that lupus patients have.

      Not all pregnant patients with antiphospholipid antibody miscarry. In general, a woman who has previously been able to carry a pregnancy to term will carry future pregnancies to term without treatment. Women who have lost at least two pregnancies are those for whom treatment is recommended. There is a controversy about whether women who are pregnant for the first time or who have lost only one pregnancy should be treated.

      Most doctors now treat pregnant women who have had prior unsuccessful pregnancies with aspirin and / or heparin to prevent blood clotting in the placenta. High dose prednisone therapy (more than 30mg per day) was also used previously, but new data indicate that the risk to the mother with this therapy may outweigh the benefits. Some doctors prescribe low doses of prednisone, and there are a variety of experimental types of therapy. Large-scale studies now being planned will soon provide more definitive answers regarding the best treatment.

      If My Mate Has Lupus Will It Affect The Baby?

      There have been no large-scale studies of children of fathers with lupus, but most studies of men with lupus have noted that they are normally fertile, and that their babies have been normal.

      If I Get Pregnant, Will I Have To Have A Cesarean Section To Deliver?

      Lupus patients do not universally have to deliver by cesarean section. The need to do this is dictated by specific obstetrical considerations that involve either the baby’s or the mother’s health that the time of delivery. However, since in many cases the mother or the child is ill, lupus patients are more likely to need a cesarean section for delivery than are normal women who do not have lupus.

      Can I Breast-feed My Baby?

      There is very little direct information available about lupus and breast-feeding. Many mothers have done so with no apparent harm to themselves or to their infants. It is, however, difficult to breast-feed premature infants, and women taking prednisone often do not produce breast milk. Many drugs taken by the mother pass through the breast milk to the baby, so a mother taking drugs should talk to her doctor before starting breast-feeding.

      Can A Woman With Lupus Take Birth Control Pills?

      Several medical articles published in the late 1970s and early 1980s suggested that birth control pills cause lupus to flare; thus most physicians told their patients not to take oral contraceptives. It is now believed that the extreme caution of the 1970s was excessive, though no new studies have been done. But many lupus patients do take birth control pills now with no apparent side effects. Nonetheless, extreme caution with birth control pills is recommended. Since one of the possible complications of anyone’s use of birth control pills is increased blood clotting that leads to phlebitis and stroke – similar to what occurs in antiphospholipid antibody syndrome – women with the antiphospholipid antibody should not take oral contraceptives.

      Condoms, diaphragms, most spermicidal jellies and intrauterine devices are generally safe for lupus patients. There is no information about the effect of the implantable contraceptive (Norplant) on lupus patients.

      Is It Dangerous For A Woman With Lupus To Have An Abortion?

      There are no special risks for termination of pregnancy in women with SLE, other than those associated with medical procedure. There is no experience with the “morning-after” pill (RU-486) in women with lupus.

      What Recourses Do I Have If I Want To Have Children But Am Unable?

      Generally, lupus does not affect one’s fertility, though some drugs used to treat the disease may reduce one’s fertility. For infertile women who are having difficulties getting pregnant, a variety of techniques are available to help. In some women, hormones are given to induce eggs to develop and be released. In others, extra hormones are given early in pregnancy. Hormone treatment is especially common in GIFT and ZIFT (Gamete or Zygote-Intra-Fallopian Tube Transplant) pregnancies in which an egg is fertilized outside the body and then placed into the womb. The lupus patient who does not produce eggs can be artificially inseminated with another woman’s egg fertilized by her husband’s sperm.

      If a lupus patient can produce eggs but is too ill to support a pregnancy, she can consider a surrogate pregnancy, in which her fertilized egg is implanted into the womb of another woman (a surrogate), who will carry the baby to term and deliver it. There are not systematic studies of such pregnancies in women with lupus, but carefully selected patients have undergone these procedures successfully. Adoption is another option for those having problems conceiving. However, several, even those in full remission for more than a decade, have faced severe, insensitive, and cruel opposition from adoption agencies.

      All physicians who see lupus patients know several who have normal grown children. There has never been a systematic follow-up of a large number of children of lupus mothers, though alarms have been raised from time to time about their growth and intellectual development. In our own studies we are now looking at the now school-aged children born of lupus mothers. Preliminary results suggest that when matched for birth weight they look pretty much like other children, and they are doing well in school. They do not appear to have unusual health problems. From past information we know that their risk of developing lupus themselves is quite low. Prospective parents should consider how the baby will be cared for if the mother is ill.

      Pregnancy does not cure lupus. The new mother, or the family considering pregnancy, should keep in mind that the mother has an important illness, that this illness is unlikely to go away, and that there may be periods during which the mother cannot care for the growing child. Exhaustion is always a threat to the mother, but a newborn, hungry in the middle of the night, or a two-year-old, full of energy, will not understand this. Nor will a child understand if Mom has to stay in bed or has to go to the hospital. The family support systems have to be very strong. In most cases, the father will have to provide immediate back-up. Some families are lucky enough to have in-laws available, and some families are lucky enough to be able to hire help. Each family should think of the potential problems before the baby arrives and have solutions available to them. Fathers should capitalize on any family-leave policies that may be available at their places of employment and should fully participate in raising the child. Lupus pregnancies are difficult, but with support and cooperation, they can be extremely rewarding.

  7. Sarah H

    What is Lupus?
    I just found out that an old friend of mine has lupus and to be honest, I have no idea what it is. I’m thinking it is a skin diease, but then again I could be way off target… Can someone please explain lupus to me?

    1. hello

      Lupus is one of many disorders of the immune system known as autoimmune diseases. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system turns against parts of the body it is designed to protect. This leads to inflammation and damage to various body tissues. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. Although people with the disease may have many different symptoms, some of the most common ones include extreme fatigue, painful or swollen joints (arthritis), unexplained fever, skin rashes, and kidney problems.

      At present, there is no cure for lupus. However, lupus can be effectively treated with drugs, and most people with the disease can lead active, healthy lives. Lupus is characterized by periods of illness, called flares, and periods of wellness, or remission. Understanding how to prevent flares and how to treat them when they do occur helps people with lupus maintain better health. Intense research is underway, and scientists funded by the NIH are continuing to make great strides in understanding the disease, which may ultimately lead to a cure.

      Two of the major questions researchers are studying are who gets lupus and why. We know that many more women than men have lupus. Lupus is three times more common in African American women than in Caucasian women and is also more common in women of Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent. In addition, lupus can run in families, but the risk that a child or a brother or sister of a patient will also have lupus is still quite low. It is difficult to estimate how many people in the United States have the disease because its symptoms vary widely and its onset is often hard to pinpoint.

      Lupus can be effectively treated with drugs, and most people with the disease can lead active, healthy lives.

      There are several kinds of lupus:

      *Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the form of the disease that most people are referring to when they say “lupus.” The word “systemic” means the disease can affect many parts of the body. The symptoms of SLE may be mild or serious. Although SLE usually first affects people between the ages of 15 and 45 years, it can occur in childhood or later in life as well. This booklet focuses on SLE.

      *Discoid lupus erythematosus is a chronic skin disorder in which a red, raised rash appears on the face, scalp, or elsewhere. The raised areas may become thick and scaly and may cause scarring. The rash may last for days or years and may recur. A small percentage of people with discoid lupus have or develop SLE later.

      *Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus refers to skin lesions that appear on parts of the body exposed to sun. The lesions do not cause scarring.

      *Drug-induced lupus is a form of lupus caused by medications. Many different drugs can cause drug-induced lupus. Symptoms are similar to those of SLE (arthritis, rash, fever, and chest pain) and they typically go away completely when the drug is stopped. The kidneys and brain are rarely involved.

      *Neonatal lupus is a rare disease that can occur in newborn babies of women with SLE, Sjögren’s syndrome, or no disease at all. Scientists suspect that neonatal lupus is caused by autoantibodies in the mother’s blood called anti-Ro (SSA) and anti-La (SSB). Autoantibodies (“auto” means self) are blood proteins that act against the body’s own parts. At birth, the babies have a skin rash, liver problems, and low blood counts. These symptoms gradually go away over several months. In rare instances, babies with neonatal lupus may have a serious heart problem that slows down the natural rhythm of the heart. Neonatal lupus is rare, and most infants of mothers with SLE are entirely healthy. All women who are pregnant and known to have anti-Ro (SSA) or anti-La (SSB) antibodies should be monitored by echocardiograms (a test that monitors the heart and surrounding blood vessels) during the 16th and 30th weeks of pregnancy.

      It is important for women with SLE or other related autoimmune disorders to be under a doctor’s care during pregnancy. Physicians can now identify mothers at highest risk for complications, allowing for prompt treatment of the infant at or before birth. SLE can also flare during pregnancy, and prompt treatment can keep the mother healthier longer.

      I have Lupus & APS. There are going to be days that your friend will not feel up like doing things and days she will want to. She may look fine to you but she may not be feeling fine. So, please try to understand that. Many of my friends don’t get that. So please learn about the disease so you can understand about the disease. And you are doing that which is awesome!

      Thanks for supporting her! 🙂

  8. *♥Sara♥*

    I just found out that my mom tested….?
    Positive for lupus… And she and I would like more information about it so can someone help please

    1. Dr. N

      So, your mom has lupus, like 10% of women. Lupus is a disease of the immune system, and now I guess it’s time to talk about it.

      Lupus is a disease of the immune system where it attacks the body’s healthy tissue. Lupus symptoms include joint pain, a butterfly rash across the face, nail swelling or cracking, fever, fatigue, sensitivity to the sun, hair loss and Raynaud’s syndrome. Lupus lasts a person’s whole life.

      Lupus can be serious because it can cause complications in the kidney, heart, lung, digestive system, and nervous system, and people with the disease sometimes have anemia. Lupus also has a toll on mental health because it can cause anxiety or depression.

      Most people (90%) who have lupus are women. Most people with the disease are Asian, Latino, or African American, between the ages of 15 and 45, and are related to someone with lupus. The cause of lupus is also unknown.

      Lupus is a short for “systemic lupus erythematosus” (SLE), the most common type of lupus. Another type of lupus is a less severe type known as cutaneous lupus erythematosus.

      I am sorry to say there is no cure for lupus, but medical treatments include drugs and medications which ease joint pain, inflammation, ulcers and rashes.

      Living with lupus is not too hard if the symptoms are under control. Here are the suggestions:

      -Cover up when you’re in the sun
      -Don’t smoke
      -Exercise Regularly
      -Improve your stress managing symptoms
      -Get 12 hours of sleep every night

      Sometimes living with lupus can cause problems in everyday activities because of the fatigue. It is important to help your mom often because now she might not be as active as before, but most people with lupus can take care of themselves.

      I am not sure if your mom wants to have another child, but being pregnant with lupus can be a challenge. It is important that your mom knows that because lupus symptoms come and go, it is important to get pregnant when they are at their least. Most babies born to women with lupus are completely healthy, but some have risk for complications of the heart, although these problems go away quickly.

      Now that your mom has lupus, I suggest she talks to a doctor to get better instructions. You should find her a gynecologist and an immunologist. I also suggest a cardiologist if she has heart problems or a nephrologist for kidney ones, as well as a rheumatologist if she has joint pain. I also suggest a psychiatrist if she faces depression or anxiety.

      Best of luck to you and her!

  9. Animal Lover

    What is this disease?What does it do/cause?Just curious.?
    Was is the disease Meningitis?That can be spread thru being in close contact,kissing,and sharing drinks?There is a commercial for it.I am just curious what it does/cause,I kno I don’t have just seeing what it is.

    1. waracha

      Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the central nervous system, known collectively as the meninges. It may develop due to a variety of causes, including infective agents, physical injury, cancer, or certain drugs. Meningitis is a serious condition owing to the proximity of the location to the brain and spinal cord. The potential for serious damage to motor control, thought processes, or even death warrants prompt medical attention.

      Causes
      Most cases of meningitis are caused by microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites, that spread into the blood and into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Non-infectious causes include cancers, systemic lupus erythematosus and certain drugs. Although the most common cause of meningitis is viral, bacterial meningitis — the second most frequent cause — can be serious and life-threatening. Anyone suspected of having meningitis should have prompt medical evaluation.

      Meningitis can affect anyone in any age group, from the newborn to the elderly.

      Clinical symptoms
      Meningitis usually presents with one or more of the following symptoms.

      High fever, sometimes with chills
      Severe headache
      Nausea or vomiting
      Light sensitivity (photophobia)
      Sound sensitivity
      Neurological signs such as drowsiness or confusion
      Twitching
      Sleepiness
      Opisthotonus
      Irritability
      Sore throat
      Delirium (particularly in children)
      Seizures (occurs in about 20 to 40 percent of patients).
      Nuchal rigidity (stiff neck, occurs in less than 50 percent of cases, but if seen, it is considered pathognomonic).
      Swelling of “soft spot” (in infants)

      Treatment

      Bacterial meningitis
      Bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency and has a high mortality rate if untreated.[6] All suspected cases, however mild, need emergency medical attention. Empiric antibiotics must be started immediately, even before the results of the lumbar puncture and CSF analysis are known. Antibiotics started within 4 hours of lumbar puncture will not significantly affect lab results.

      The choice of antibiotic depends on local advice. In most of the developed world, the most common organisms involved are Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis: first line treatment in the UK is a third-generation cephalosporin (such as ceftriaxone or cefotaxime). In those under 3 years of age, over 50 years of age, or immunocompromised, ampicillin should be added to cover Listeria monocytogenes. In the U.S. and other countries with high levels of penicillin resistance, the first line choice of antibiotics is vancomycin and a carbapenem (such as meropenem). In sub-Saharan Africa, oily chloramphenicol or ceftriaxone are often used because only a single dose is needed in most cases.

      Staphylococci and gram-negative bacilli are common infective agents in patients who have just had a neurosurgical procedure. Again, the choice of antibiotic depends on local patterns of infection: cefotaxime and ceftriaxone remain good choices in many situations, but ceftazidime is used when Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a problem, and intraventricular vancomycin is used for those patients with intraventricular shunts because of high rates of staphylococcal infection. In patients with intracerebral prosthetic material (metal plates, electrodes or implants, etc.) then sometimes chloramphenicol is the only antibiotic that will adequately cover infection by Staphylococcus aureus (cephalosporins and carbapenems are inadequate under these circumstances).

      Once the results of the CSF analysis are known along with the Gram-stain and culture, empiric therapy may be switched to therapy targeted to the specific causative organisms. Because antibiotic-resistance is a prevalent problem, information from drug susceptibility testing should also be gathered.

      Neisseria meningitidis (Meningococcus) can usually be treated with a 7-day course of IV antibiotics:
      Penicillin-sensitive — penicillin G or ampicillin
      Penicillin-resistant — ceftriaxone or cefotaxime
      Prophylaxis for close contacts (contact with oral secretions) — rifampin 600 mg bid for 2 days (adults) or 10 mg/kg bid (children). Rifampin is not recommended in pregnancy and as such, these patients should be treated with single doses of ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, or ceftriaxone
      Streptococcus pneumoniae (Pneumococcus) can usually be treated with a 2-week course of IV antibiotics:
      Penicillin-sensitive — penicillin G
      Penicillin-intermediate — ceftriaxone or cefotaxime
      Penicillin-resistant — ceftriaxone or cefotaxime + vancomycin
      Listeria monocytogenes is treated with a 3-week course of IV ampicillin + gentamicin.
      Gram negative bacilli — ceftriaxone or cefotaxime
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa — ceftazidime
      Staphylococcus aureus
      Methicillin-sensitive — nafcillin
      Methicillin-resistant — vancomycin
      Streptococcus agalactiae — penicillin G or ampicillin
      Haemophilus influenzae — ceftriaxone or cefotaxime

      Viral meningitis
      Unlike bacteria, viruses cannot be killed by antibiotics. Patients with very mild viral meningitis may only have to spend a few hours in a hospital, while those who have a more serious infection may be hospitalized for many more days for supportive care. Patients with mild cases, which often cause only flu-like symptoms, may be treated with fluids, bed rest (preferably in a quiet, dark room), and analgesics for pain and fever. Serious cases, especially in the case of young children or neonates, may require the use of antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir. The physician may also prescribe anticonvulsants such as phenytoin to prevent seizures and corticosteroids to reduce brain inflammation. If inflammation is severe, pain medicine and sedatives may be prescribed to make the patient more comfortable.

      Fungal meningitis
      This form of meningitis is rare in healthy people, but is a higher risk in those who have AIDS. Antifungals to combat the infection are usually administered, as well as fluids and medicine to control pain and fever. Often the pathogen in these cases is Cryptococcus Sp.

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