What is lupus? What are the symptoms of Selena Gomez’s disease?

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Elena Gomez celebrated her 30th birthday wearing a glamorous sheer Versace gown as she partied the night away with friends, sharing pictures on her social media accounts.

Among the attendees at the star-studded event was the Wizards of Waverly Place star’s good friend Francia Raisa, who famously donated one of her kidneys to Selena, who suffers from lupus.

In 2018, the star revealed on Instagram that she had undergone a secret kidney transplant over the summer following her battle with lupus.

Sharing a photo of herself and her friend in a hospital bed, she opened up about her experience with the disease, explaining that the transplant was: “What I needed to do for my overall health.”

Gomez, then 25, was originally diagnosed with the disease at age 23. The star took a break from her career to deal with mental health issues stemming from her diagnosis.

The NHS describes Lupus as a “complex and poorly understood” condition, with many people still in the dark about the disease, its symptoms and its treatment.

Yes, however, around 50,000 people in the UK have the condition, according to Lupus UK.

Here, Dr. Steve Alley, Bupa’s Medical Director explains everything you need to know about lupus.

What is Lupus?

Lupus is a complex condition; There are different types and people often show different symptoms on different parts of the body. Thus it is often misunderstood by the general public.

Generally, the term lupus refers to systemic lupus erythematosus – or SLE – which is one of the more serious forms of the condition.

SLE can cause a variety of symptoms, and some people will experience them more severely than others. The three most common are fatigue, swollen or painful joints, and skin irritation or rash, especially around the hands, wrists, or face.

Other symptoms may include fever, swollen glands, headache or migraine, and abdominal pain. Of course, these can be caused by a number of issues, so it’s important to talk to your doctor who can make a diagnosis.

Other types of lupus affect only the skin.

How can you catch lupus?

SLE is an autoimmune condition, meaning it is not contagious and cannot be passed from one person to another. Instead, it occurs when antibodies from the immune system mistakenly attack healthy cells or organs.

Experts are still not entirely sure why this happens, but it is widely agreed that there are a number of reasons. Some of these are genetic – so if you have a sibling with lupus, you’re more likely to experience it too – while others are within our control. Many experts believe that smoking increases your chances.

The condition can also be affected by changes in hormones, for example pregnancy or puberty, so it is most common in women of childbearing age.

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How can it be treated?

Lupus can usually be diagnosed with a doctor’s blood test.

Although there is currently no cure for SLE, there are medications available to manage its effects such as anti-inflammatory drugs, or drugs that suppress your immune system. By using these, many people are able to successfully manage the condition to limit the impact on their daily lives.