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BATON ROUGE, LA – “It can be activated by sunlight. This time of year, we do see more cases of sunburn, and it triggers the inflammatory process,” said Dr. Stephen Pollet, Chief of Rheumatology at the Baton Rouge Clinic.

Dr. Pollet said that’s one of many triggers for lupus, and that is the topic we are talking about in this week’s Women’s Wellness.

“Lupus is an inflammatory illness that can be presented in a lot of different ways. We see it as arthritis or inflamed joints or weakness or fatigue,” said Dr. Pollet. “It’s not infectious. It’s not a cancer, but it is an inflammatory disease.”

Dr. Pollet said lupus can affect anyone, but it is seen a lot across certain demographics.

“It’s a lot more common in women, particularly age 15 to 45. Actually, 90% of the people with lupus are in that bracket,” said Dr. Pollet. “It’s more common in African-American women, and it’s more common in Hispanic women.”

Now, what are the symptoms?

“Lupus is a great mimicker, as we call it because it can present with weakness or joint pain, ulcers in the mouth, thinning of the hair, facial rash. That can lead patients and doctors in many different directions until we put all the picture together,” said Dr. Pollet.

If it goes untreated…

“Well the worst case is you can have kidney failure, or you can have neurologic events, such as stroke or seizures,” explained Dr. Pollet. “You can have anemia, and some people can get infections. So in your worst 10% of cases, it’s a devastating disease.”

However, Dr. Pollet said there is hope.

“The treatment depends on what aspect of lupus you have. If it’s skin problems, my dermatology colleagues can get by, by using a local cream. The majority of folks need a Prednisone type medicine or we get into the medicines that affect the disease process,which is Plaquenil. These medicines are meant to fine tune the immune system,” concluded Dr. Pollet.

For more resources on lupus, just head to the link below:

http://www.cdc.gov/lupus/

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