Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis – The Similarities and Differences
Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are two unusual conditions, but are basically autoimmune diseases that tends to attack the own body very similarly. This causes all the confusion and a person having rheumatoid arthritis ends up thinking that he has lupus and vice versa.
Autoimmune diseases are particularly caused by a breakdown of the human immune system. It fails to discriminate between the own tissues and cells of the body and the foreign matters, such as the viruses. Instead of producing antibodies for attacking the antigens, like the bacteria, viruses and other such invaders, the immune system develops auto-antibodies which tends to attack the own tissues as well as the organs of the individual.
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause swelling and stiffness, followed by tremendous pain and lack of functionality of the joints. It is very commonly triggered in our wrist as well as our fingers, but can severely affect our joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is very common in women than in men and it onsets between 25 to 55 years of age. The severity of rheumatoid arthritis is such that it can deeply affect the internal organs and reach places much beyond our joints. It affects are seen on the eyes, lungs, mouth and kidneys as well.
Lupus, on the other hand, can affect almost any of the body parts, but it is most commonly seen affecting the skin, the joints, kidneys, blood and also the brain. In lupus, pain in then joints or arthralgia is very common. Swelling of the joints or arthritis might also be present in some of the cases, but most of the people suffering from lupus have joint pain but no swelling or just intermittent swelling. In case of rheumatoid arthritis, swelling of the joints is likely to be present all the time and it is very painful, though less prominent. As rheumatoid arthritis is even more likely to cause bone destruction and joint deformities, reconstructive surgery or joint replacement becomes essential.
Lupus, the short form of systemic lupus erythematosus, is quite similar to rheumatoid arthritis. Lupus is characterized by a rash, almost shaped like a butterfly and appears on an individual’s cheeks or across the nose and is very painful. Inflammation of the joints, pain, hair loss, fatigue and nephritis can be regarded as some of the common symptoms of lupus. Though not all, some symptoms are definitely common.
A genetic link has been discovered between lupus and rheumatoid arthritis by the researchers at Feunstein Center for Medical Research, Manhassat, NY. These findings were then published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
It was found that though the diseases are different, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers have an alternative of the similar gene, STAT4. The presence of this gene has accelerated the risk of rheumatoid arthritis by 60% and doubled the risk of lupus. This definitely has been a breakthrough research and the results were amazing.
Almost 2.1 million Americans have been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and about 1.5 million Americans are in the clutches of lupus. However, both these diseases affect women more than men and probably for some undefined reason, Asians and Africans stand a higher chance of developing these diseases.
Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are both autoimmune diseases with almost alike symptoms. While lupus tends to attack the skin more often, rheumatoid arthritis is noted in the joints, both small and large. However, the impact of both the diseases is the same.
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