Myths and Facts About Lupus

The autoimmune disease lupus affects more than 5 million people across the globe. Lupus affects people of color disproportionately more than other ethnic groups, and has a higher prevalence among women, too. 

Kimberly L. Bolling, MD, a compassionate and skilled internist in Bowie, Maryland, has seen for herself how women and men with lupus are surrounded by often well-intentioned misinformation. Here she presents a few common myths about lupus and the facts you need to know to get the care you deserve. 

Myth: Lupus is cancer  

In fact, lupus isn’t a type of cancer, though some women and men with lupus benefit from chemotherapy as a treatment. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means your body erroneously attacks healthy tissues, causing a range of symptoms. 

Some types of chemotherapy suppress your immune system, which is why those drugs can be helpful if you have lupus. By suppressing your immune system, chemotherapy stops your body from attacking itself.

Myth: Lupus is like HIV  

In fact, while the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) affects your immune system, it works opposite of the way lupus does. If you have an HIV infection, your immune system is under-active and can’t battle infections and pathogens effectively. 

If you have lupus, however, your immune system is overactive and attacks your own healthy body organs, as if they were pathogens.

Myth: If you don’t have a ‘butterfly rash,’ you don’t have lupus

In fact, while a butterfly-shaped rash spread across your nose and upper cheeks is a classic sign of lupus, the disease causes a range of symptoms and can affect any organ in your body. Not everyone gets a rash. If you have lupus, you may have symptoms such as:

Even feeling fatigued without reason could be a sign that you have lupus. Some women and men with lupus are sensitive to sunlight and may develop a rash or feel fatigued when outdoors.  

Myth: You can catch lupus from another person

In fact, lupus isn’t contagious. You can’t get lupus from touching or having sex with someone who has the disease. Lupus sometimes runs in families, which suggests that you might inherit the tendency to develop lupus. 

Myth: There’s just one kind of lupus

In fact, the most common and most serious type of lupus is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE can affect organ function and cause blood clotting. Other types of lupus are:

If you have lupus and you’re pregnant, your OB/GYN classifies you as a high-risk pregnancy so that both you and your baby get the care you need to stay healthy. 

Myth: Lupus makes you infertile

In fact, lupus doesn’t lead to infertility, but it may complicate conception for women because the disease raises your levels of estrogen, throwing your hormones out of balance.  You may need hormonal therapy in order to get pregnant. Your pregnancy is then classified as high risk so that you and your baby get the extra care and attention you need throughout gestation and delivery.

Myth: There are no treatments for lupus

In fact, while lupus can’t be cured, you can manage your disease with lifestyle adjustments and medications. Dr. Bolling helps you make the changes you need and prescribes medications based on your type of symptoms so you can live a happy, long, and active life.

If you have lupus, or think you might, call us at 301-352-0090 today, or use our online booking feature to request an appointment. You can also send us a message here on our website so you can get the care you need.

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