Medical scientists still searching for relief for lupus sufferers


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Living with a chronic affliction is something that most people might never have to face. Chronic pain, or chronic disease, is something that is longstanding and, more importantly, does not offer any reprieve to sufferers.

May is Lupus Awareness Month and is a time to reach out to loved ones with lupus and share support.

Lupus is defined by the Lupus Foundation of America as “... a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs).”

During a case of lupus, the body’s immune system overworks itself and creates a problem of ‘autoimmunity.’

Autoimmunity is when the immune system cannot distinguish between foreign bacteria and the body’s own healthy tissue.

While no one is sure what causes lupus, the disease is not contagious.

There are doctors, thankfully, that specialize in rheumatology and often offer services to sufferers of lupus.

In Brevard County, there are various rheumatological professionals that help patients with lupus manage their symptoms.

There also are centers focusing on lupus around Florida, including a Lupus Foundation of America, Florida Chapter Center in Boynton Beach.

“Lupus is a complicated disease and can be very frustrating at times,” said Support Services Manager (of the Boynton Beach chapter) Fredda Steidle, who herself lives with lupus. “Every day is a little bit different; symptoms come and go, and you never know what to expect. A lot of times, it doesn’t show, and people really question whether you’re sick or not, and that can be frustrating also, not only from a physical perspective, but (also) from a social perspective.

“The medical community is looking very diligently on trying to find a cure,” Steidle added. “And with some of the medications, the side effects are worse than the actual symptoms, so patients don’t always want to take their medications. It’s a challenging disease.”

Living with lupus doesn’t have to be depressing, however, according to Steidle.

“Living with this has also had a positive (effect),” Steidle said. “It’s made me appreciate every day a little more than I think I would have if I didn’t have this illness. It’s made me appreciate the people around me, even if I disagree with them, because I’m able to interact with them.”

For more information about lupus and lupus centers in Florida, go to the Lupus Foundation of America website at lupus.org/florida.