Selena Gomez puts spotlight on lupus
Selena Gomez recently admitted that she had to put her life on hold due to the rare autoimmune disease, lupus. While on hiatus from her tour, the 23-year-old pop singer and actress decided to undergo chemotherapy to treat her flare-ups.
“I was diagnosed with lupus,” Gomez said in a Billboard magazine interview. “That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke.”
The disease is found most common with women between 15 and 44 years old, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. It can affect the entire body, including the skin, joints, blood and kidneys.
Lupus also causes the immune system to attack the healthy tissue, instead of attacking viruses. Some symptoms of lupus could be fatigue, fever, weight loss, pain, rash, hearing loss, anemia, bloating and mouth ulcers. People with the disease can have flare ups that cause their symptoms to get worse.
Dr. Joan Merrill, medical director of the Lupus Foundation of America, explained that lupus has many different treatment paths because it affects everyone in different ways. Some treatment options for this disease includes chemotherapy, which was the case for Gomez.
Although chemotherapy is best known for treating cancer, the option is best for severe cases. The process can help to slow down cell reproduction and decrease products made by the immune system as it attacks its own cells, Dr. Merrill said. The dosages are usually less than what cancer patients typically take.
People should be sensitive to the fact that the disease can look different from person-to-person, and may be hard to pinpoint.
“[Selena] Gomez’s story certainly demonstrates that even if things look one way from the outside, it is not always clear what trials and tribulations people may be going through,” says Dr. Jeffry Kreamer, hospitalist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “The best plan of action is for patients who are diagnosed with lupus to consult with their physician to determine the best treatment plan.”
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