How Lupus Affects the Immune System

Today marks the 14th annual observance of World Lupus Day. Lupus is a serious and chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body including the joins, skin and organs. The term autoimmune means that our immune system is unable to tell the difference between healthy and noon-healthy tissues. Typically, our immune system creates what’s known as antibodies, which are responsible for protecting the body from foreign invaders such as germs that cause the common cold or flu, other viruses, and bacteria. When a person has lupus, in lieu of these protective antibodies, their healthy tissues will instead create autoantibodies. Autoantibodies work to destroy healthy issues, which can result in pain and inflammation.

There are 5 million people across the world living with Lupus today, and it affects an estimated 1,000 Canadians. It can develop in people of all ages, races and regions, but occurs most frequently in women than it does men.

Not all individuals diagnosed with Lupus will experience the same symptoms. However, common symptoms of the disease include fatigue, joint pain often accompanied with redness and/or swelling of the painful area, rash, sunlight sensitivity, rash, mouth sores, weight gain, chest pain, blood abnormalities, seizures and other psychological problems. Lupus can appear in phases, either as a flare-up phase with acute symptoms, a chronic phase where symptoms will persist, or a remission phase where symptoms may not be present for a certain length of time. Everyone reacts to Lupus differently.

While there is no known cause or cure for Lupus at this time, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary can treat the symptoms associated with the disease with medications. The medications prescribed are usually dependent on the severity of the symptoms, but the most common treatment choices include anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids, and are recommended to be taken on a short-term basis due to the possibility of side effects.

When dealing with Lupus it is important to pay attention to your flare-ups and make note of any potential triggers. This will help both you and your medical team be able to appropriately treat the symptoms in a much more effective, manageable way. For more information on Lupus, you can visit You can also find additional information on the disease on Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog on WordPress by clicking here.