What Causes Lupus?

In order to hopefully treat and prevent recurrence of lupus we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow lupus symptoms to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind lupus consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to lupus symptoms.  Here are six possibilities:
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Gluten Sensitivity
  • Low DHEA
  • Autoimmune Tendency
  • Lyme Disease*
* symptoms can be very similar

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
recurring depression
low HDL cholesterol level
morning sickness
4-6 years at 120-180 blood sugar
history of atherosclerosis
moderate abdominal pain
frequent runny nose
darker/redder skin color
acne worse during period
severe sexual abuse during childhood
adverse reaction to stress
being highly motivated
... and more than 100 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of lupus symptoms:
Cause Probability Status
Gluten Sensitivity 94% Confirm
Autoimmune Tendency 66% Possible
Lyme Disease** 29% Unlikely
Adrenal Fatigue 5% Ruled out
Low DHEA 2% Ruled out
Atherosclerosis 2% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process
** Symptoms can be very similar

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Immune System Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about lupus:
Have you ever been diagnosed with Lupus (SLE, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Minor episode(s) now resolved
→ Major episode(s) now resolved
→ Current minor problem
→ Current major problem
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either history of lupus or lupus, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:

Numerous studies have confirmed premature, accelerated atherosclerosis in SLE patients.  Although the exact cause is not known at this point, atherosclerotic heart disease is a common cause of morbidity and death amongst lupus patients.

Gluten Sensitivity / Celiac Disease

Some patients diagnosed SLE may in fact be suffering the results of gluten intolerance.  In these cases, removing gluten from the diet may completely cure the patient. [Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (2004; 63: pp1501-3)]

Low Adrenal Function / Adrenal Insufficiency

Lupus is one of the auto-immune diseases, caused by a hyperactive ("hypervigilant") immune system that attacks a person's own protein as if it were foreign matter.  One reason for this is poor adrenal function.  Adrenal steroids modulate (slow down) the immune system: when there is not enough of these steroids the immune system goes berserk.

Low DHEA Level

Low blood levels of the hormone DHEA have been associated with more severe symptoms in people with SLE.  Preliminary trials have suggested that 50 to 200mg per day DHEA improved symptoms in people with SLE.  One double-blind trial of women with mild to moderate SLE found that 200mg of DHEA per day improved symptoms and allowed a greater decrease in prednisone use, but a similar trial in women with severe SLE found only insignificant benefits.

Lyme Disease

Lyme arthritis is often mistaken clinically for systemic lupus erythematosus.

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
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