Nepal | June 19, 2019

People, health workers lack awareness of lupus

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 11

Many people in the country have neither heard about the disease named lupus nor know anything about what the disease is. Due to lack of awareness about the disease many people lupus patients visit hospital very late.

Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.

Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.

A 37-year-old Monika Shrestha is a lupus patient. She was diagnosed with the disease when she was just 19 years old.

She said that it was a very difficult situation for her in the beginning to bear the joint pain and also to diagnose what her disease was.

In the initial phase, she had joint pain accompanied by frequent fever. She visited many hospitals, but in vain. She was finally diagnosed with lupus at Alka Hospital in Lalitpur after one-and-half-year of complaining about joint pain.

Shrestha shared that she had symptoms such as butterfly shaped rashes on her face, pain in joints and loss of hair.

According to Dr Archan Shamser Rana, a nephrologist and chairperson of MARK International Kidney Centre, common symptoms of lupus include joint pain, fever, rashes, hair loss, chest pain, mental fogginess, fatigue, and oral and nasal ulcers.

Dr Rana said that average time between a person’s first symptoms and diagnosis of lupus was almost six years. “Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other ailments.

The most distinctive sign of lupus — a facial rash that resembles the wings of a butterfly unfolding across both cheeks — occurs in many, but not all cases of the disease.

There is no cure for lupus, but early diagnosis of the disease can protect damage of internal body organs, and it is necessary to aware people about timely treatment, “ Rana added.

“Females aged between 15 and 49 are more prone to this disease,”she said. Researchers speculate that the female hormone estrogen may play a role in the development of the disease.

According to Dr Rana, though there are no researches conducted on the disease in the country, it is estimated that in every 1,000 person one is diagnosed with lupus.

Male-female ratio for the disease is 1:9.

But due to lack of awareness about lupus among general public and even health workers, the disease is not diagnosed on time, which leads to patients suffering from more severe problems.

Individuals with lupus are also more susceptible to infection because the disease and its treatments can weaken the immune system.

Respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, salmonella, herpes, shingles and yeast infections are among the most common among people suffering from the disease.

“Around 50 per cent of health workers could not diagnose the disease only on the basis of symptoms,” said Dr Rana.


A version of this article appears in print on May 12, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.


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