As was recently revealed, Selena Gomez canceled her November 15 performance in Dubai because she is taking time off after further complications stemming from her lupus diagnosis. The 24-year-old songstress told People, "I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off."
But what is lupus? While the disease affects at least 5 million people worldwide, chances are you don't know much about it.
- Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease
The disease can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). An autoimmune disease is a disease in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your own healthy tissues along with the foreign invaders its designed to fend off. In a normal body, your body produces antibodies that fend off germs, viruses, bacteria, and other harmful foreign bodies. In the body of someone with lupus, the body produces autoantibodies that begin to attack your own tissues, causing inflammation.
It affects everyone differently
The inflammation caused by lupus is accompanied by fatigue, headaches, swollen joints, fever, anemia, rashes, hair loss, chest pains, and circulation issues. However, it can also create other complications. Selena has discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus.
It can be hard to diagnose
Lupus' symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, fever, and rashes. These symptoms are also linked to other diseases such as Lyme disease, making it hard to identify it as exclusively lupus. There is also no single test for lupus because the affects of the disease vary by person.
Its root causes are complicated
There is no known direct cause of lupus. Scientists believe it is caused by a combination of factors including hormones, genetics, and environment.
It isn't contagious
Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact. You cannot "catch" lupus from someone or "give" lupus to someone.
It's not like cancer
While Selena Gomez has undergone chemotherapy, lupus is different from cancer. While treatments may be similar, the two conditions have different causes. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissue growth (a tumor). Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks healthy tissues.
It's not like HIV or AIDS
In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
It's possible to live with lupus
Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
It mostly affects women
Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Most people with lupus develop the disease between the ages of 15-44.
It's more likely for women of color
Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.