SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The month of May wraps up Lupus Awareness Month, a time for reflection and education about the chronic disease that affects 1.5 million people across the country with approximately 90% of those being women. The condition impacts the immune system and can cause inflammation, fatigue, and even harm to internal organs.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, anyone can develop the disease. But the people who are at a higher risk include women ages 15 to 44, those who have a family member with lupus or another autoimmune disease, and certain racial/ethnic groups such as African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, or Pacific Islander.
Right now, experts do not know what causes lupus, but they think it may develop in response to certain hormones, like estrogen or environmental triggers. A doctor who is considering the possibility of lupus in a patient will look for signs of inflammation such as pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function at a particular place in a body. However, there are many challenges to reaching a lupus diagnosis because it is known as the “great imitator.” Its symptoms mimic many other illnesses and can also be unclear as it can come and go or change over the course of the disease.
Madi Anderson joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion about her experience living with lupus. She shared when she began experiencing symptoms, how long it took for her to get a diagnosis, what her daily life is like living with the condition, whether her symptoms change from time to time, what she’s noticed from sharing her story with others, and what she wants the community to know about the chronic disease.
Dr. Steven Call with Utah Valley Rheumatology talked about the data surrounding lupus, such as how many people in Utah are currently living with the condition. He discussed who has a higher chance of being diagnosed, the variation in symptoms among different people, how the disease can impact someone’s organs, what some of the treatments are for lupus, and the resources he offers at his clinic.
Amy Poole, a lupus awareness activist and patient shared her personal experiences with living with the disease, what she recommends to someone who thinks they may have the chronic illness, the Social Butterflies group, her goal to start a new Utah nonprofit for lupus patients, and what she wants the community to know about the chronic disease.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Anderson, Dr. Call, and Poole, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.