What you need to know about lupus - the condition Toni Braxton is battling

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Image: Instagram
Image: Instagram

She went public with her family’s history in 2012 when she was hospitalised, saying, “Some days I can’t balance it all. I just have to lie in bed. Pretty much when you have lupus, you feel like you have the flu every day."

So, what is lupus?

The term lupus typically refers to a severe form of the condition known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in many parts of the body. As with other autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, it is believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may cause lupus. Most cases occur in women of childbearing age, with the U.K. National Health Service (NHS) reporting that the condition tends to be more common in people of African, Caribbean or Asian origin.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary between people and may be mild to severe. You should consult your doctor if you often feel joint pain and stiffness, extreme tiredness, or skin rashes - which are often over the nose and cheeks. Other symptoms include weightloss, sensitivity to light and poor circulation in fingers and toes. Severe cases of lupus can cause inflammation causing severe damage to the heart, lungs, brain or kidneys - and can be life-threatening.

How is it diagnosed?

To confirm lupus, a doctor will typically conduct a number of blood tests. X-rays and scans of the heart and kidneys may also be required.

What are the treatments?

There's currently no cure for SLE, but medical experts are able to relieve symptoms with medications. With support, many people with lupus are able to manage the illness effectively.

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