What is lupus? As Selena Gomez takes time off to deal with her disease, we explain its paralyzing side effects
- Selena Gomez canceled world tour due to panic attacks and depression
- The singer, 24, said they are side effects related to her lupus disease
- Last year she revealed she'd had chemotherapy to tackle the condition
- Here we explain the symptoms and treatments for the autoimmune illness
Selena Gomez has made headlines by ending her world tour early due to side effects from lupus disease.
The 24-year-old revealed a year ago that she had undergone chemotherapy to treat the chronic disease, when the body's immune system attacks healthy tissue.
On Wednesday, she told fans she is struggling with lupus-related panic attacks and depression.
The illness affects five million people worldwide, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.
But judging by Google Trends, it seems many people are not aware of the disease and its implications.
Selena Gomez, 24, revealed a year ago that she had undergone chemotherapy to treat the chronic disease. Now she is taking a career break to handle lupus-related depression
There was a 250 per cent spike in Google searches for 'selena gomez health disease' in the hours after Gomez's announcement on Wednesday.
Data shows there was also a 250 per cent spike in searches for 'what is lupus'.
And, perhaps confused by Gomez's chemotherapy treatment, many have been searching 'is lupus cancer?'
WHAT IS LUPUS?
Lupus - officially termed Systemic Lupus Erythematotsus (SLE) - is a chronic autoimmune condition when the body makes antibodies that attack itself.
It is 10 times more common in women than in men, and typically develops between the ages of 12 and 25.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Some patients will have only mild problems such as aches and tiredness.
Others have life-threatening organ damage to the heart and the kidneys.
Most sufferers experience joint stiffness, most acutely in the mornings.
Hair loss is common, as is a butterfly-shaped rash across the face, and sensitivity to the sun.
Other problems include depression and lung and heart disease, as well as kidney inflammation.
It is often mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis (due to joint stiffness), a skin condition (due to the rash) or a blood disease (due to inflammation).
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
To diagnose a patient, doctors must carry out a blood test, which will identify self-attacking antibodies.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
There is no cure, and few specific medications to treat symptoms.
Doctors can prescribe anti-inflammatory and steroid tablets, as well as pills for stress and medication for breathing problems.
In some cases, they prescribe cancer-fight drugs.
For each sufferer, treatment is different and specialized, due to the lack of FDA-approved targeted medication.
Though lupus and cancer are unrelated, both conditions can be tackled with chemotherapy.
But the medication is used in different ways.
Methotrexate - a chemotherapy drug used to treat both - can be injected or taken in pill form.
In cancer patients, it is very often injected in high doses, direct into the blood stream or around the brain.
This severely suppresses the patient's immune system, and can be extremely debilitating.
For lupus sufferers, it is most commonly administered in pill form.
This has a lesser immune-suppressing effect.
WHAT IS THE LINK WITH DEPRESSION?
It is incredibly common that people suffering from chronic and potentially life-threatening diseases develop depression.
This can stem from the stress of coping with their routine medication, physical ailments, unpredictable flare-ups, and the sense that it will never end.
Many steroid pills used the treat the condition also induce feelings of hopelessness, exhaustion, and clouded thoughts.
Studies have also shown people with severe lupus that damages their vital organs - brain, heart - have a higher risk of developing clinical depression.
- For more information about the disease, visit the Lupus Foundation of America
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3769362/What-lupus-Selena-Gomez-takes-time-deal-disease-explain-paralyzing-effects.html#ixzz4J6Hmk5Jm
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