Selena Gomez has revealed that she was forced to undergo chemotherapy after being diagnosed with a medical condition called lupus. Here, we present five things you need to know about the potentially life-threatening disease and its symptoms.
Selena Gomez, 23, recently shared the sad news that her struggle with lupus had become so severe that she was forced to take a break from the spotlight in later 2013 in order to undergo a round of chemotherapy. HollywoodLife.com would like to help educate her fans by providing the top five basic facts, symptoms, and other things you need to know about this chronic disease.
1.) Lupus is an autoimmune disease
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of a person’s body, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. “Chronic” means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. When a person is diagnosed with lupus, it means that something has gone wrong with their immune system, which is the part of the body responsible for fighting off viruses, bacteria, and germs. As the LFA website explains, “Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.”
2.) The symptoms come and go and can be quite painful
With lupus, symptoms will often worsen or “flare,” causing an individual to feel ill, before going back into remission. Symptoms include: extreme fatigue, headaches, painful or swollen joints, fever, hair loss, a butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose, abnormal blood clotting and anemia. Lupus is non-communicable however, which means that you can’t catch it from another person.
3.) Millions of people suffer from the disease
An estimated 1.5 million Americans, and at least five million people worldwide, have lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. The disease can impact anyone, but 90 percent of the people diagnosed with lupus are women — and most develop it between the ages of 15 and 44.
4.) Treatment options can range from person to person
There is no cure for lupus, although treatments do exist to help alleviate the symptoms, some by suppressing the immune system. Chemotherapy, the treatment Selena said she went through, can be used in severe cases.
5.) Doctors still aren’t sure what causes the disease
While doctors still are unsure what causes lupus, many believe that it develops in response to a combination of factors including hormones, genetics, and environmental factors such as sun exposure.
For more information about lupus, visit the Lupus Foundation of America website.
— Alyssa Montemurro