Celebrities Suffering From Lupus: Facts About the Disease

By Sarah Thomas
July 24, 2014 11:51 AM EST

Celebrities Suffering From Lupus: Facts About the Disease

Actress Kristen Johnston, pop star Selena Gomez, R&B singer Whitney Houston and even Lady Gaga have said they suffer from Lupus. The autoimmune disease causes the immune system of the body to become hyperactive and attack its own tissues.


Kristen Johnston, famous for her sitcom Third Rock From The Sun was diagnosed with lupus myelitis in 2013. This is a rare form of lupus in which the immune system attacks the spinal cord. There is no definite cause or cure for the disease and that makes the battle even harder. She became weak and found it difficult to even climb a fleet of stairs.


Kristen underwent chemotherapy and steroids to overcome the disease, she is still in recovery. "Every day I'm amazed that I can lift my head. Every single day is a gift, and I don't take one second of it for granted," she said. Kristen joins the other celebrities who have admitted that they suffer from the disease.


According to the US Office of Minority Health, Hispanic women are three times more likely to be diagnosed with lupus and they develop symptoms at a younger age than other women. It is also seen that 90 per cent of the cases are women.


Selena Gomez was diagnosed with lupus a couple of years back as well. Her grandfather Ricardo Gomez told the press that she was undergoing treatment and is getting along well. Even Lady Gaga stated that she tested "borderline positive" for lupus.


While people are aware of the many celebrities who have the disease, not many are aware of what it is. Lupus is frightening and dangerous because of several reasons. It manifests as rashes on the cheek and the bridge of the nose, sometimes on other parts of the body that comes in contact with the sun. Joint pains are another symptom of the disease; it can even lead to arthritis.


According to Richard Furie, MD, chief of the Division of Rheumatology for the North Shore-LIJ Health System and director of The Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Autoimmune Disease Center at North Shore-LIJ Health System, which specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus and related disorders, "Lupus most often affects the joints and skin, causing arthritis and rash, respectively, it can affect any organ system of the body, including the heart, kidneys, lungs, blood, and brain." He says that nearly 80 per cent of the people with lupus feel weak and experience fatigue. "For some, it can be debilitating," he adds.


Dr Furie also says that nearly 40 percent of the adults and two thirds of children with lupus will develop kidney complications. Despite all of this he says that people with the disease can still live a healthy life due to continued research about the immune system.


Since the symptoms of lupus are very similar to other illnesses and may recur irregularly, it may take three to five years just to confirm if the person has developed the disease. "For this reason, patients should consult with a rheumatologist," he suggests.

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