Doctors plan to unmask 'disease in disguise'
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Tuesday 03 June 1997
The Arthritis and Rheumatism Council yesterday launched a campaign to improve awareness of the little-known disease, called Lupus, which can cause kidney failure, destroy joints and trigger miscarriage. Misdiagnosis prevents early treatment which is essential for patients' survival and quality of life.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks itself and symptoms can mimic those of diabetes, multiple sclerosis or even schizophrenia. Many patients are referred to rheumatologists because GPs think they have got arthritis.
Symptoms of lupus range from joint and muscle pain to heart problems, ulcers, fever and rashes. Almost a third of patients develop kidney disease.
Treatments are more successful than 20 years ago when high-dose steroids were prescribed causing serious side effects. Today the same drugs are used in lower doses and deaths have fallen and quality of life improved but the earlier treatment starts the better the chances of success, the charity says.
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