May is Lupus Awareness Month, but if you are like most people you’re not really sure what lupus is. In fact, a person may experience headaches, fatigue, joint pain or any number of symptoms associated with the disease and never realize that lupus may be the explanation.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America’s National Resource Center, lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can inflame and damage any part of the body (joints, skin and/or vital organs).

Essentially, the body’s immune cells which normally fight off germs, bacteria, and viruses, go on the attack against one’s own healthy cells instead, causing inflammation and tissue damage. In severe cases, the heart, kidneys, and other vital organs can be injured.

Today, approximately 1.5 million Americans have some form of lupus and early diagnosis is key to maintaining one’s quality of life. However, there is no single test to diagnose lupus and the symptoms are similar to many other diseases and disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, diabetes, thyroid disease and others. For these reasons, the accurate diagnosis is often delayed.

While lupus cannot be cured, it can be managed and those living with the disease can lead active lives. At IBJI our board certified rheumatologists are trained and experienced in offering state-of-the-art care to people with lupus. “We work closely with patients to establish a treatment plan unique to each individual and focused on slowing or stopping the progression of the disease” notes Rheumatologist Ami Kothari, MD.

Dr. Chinyoung Park, another IBJI Rheumatologist, adds “medication is only one part of the solution: lifestyle tips help patients avoid triggers that can aggravate disease activity — avoiding direct sun exposure, effectively managing stress, and balancing rest with everyday activities, can all help minimize flare-ups.”

If you have questions about lupus or other autoimmune conditions, we invite you to schedule online with one of IBJI’s rheumatologists. Please give us a call at 847-375-3000.

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