Campaigners are trying to raise awareness about lupus, a ‘sneaky’ autoimmune condition famously suffered by Selena Gomez.
Experts from the Lupus Foundation of America have said ambiguity around the disorder is leading to six-plus-year waits for a diagnosis.
Gomez spoke out again about her lupus diagnosis over the weekend after her social media followers pointed out how her hands were ‘shaking’ in a recent clip.
She was initially diagnosed in 2014 and was forced to undergo a kidney transplant three years later due to the condition.
Although she did not explicitly say what medication caused the shakiness, immune system drugs given to transplant patients can cause tremors.
Clarification: Ms Gomez later clarified that the shaking in her hands was indeed a side effect brought on by her lupus
Lady Gaga and Nick Cannon have also struggled with systemic lupus erythematosus, more frequently known as lupus.
The condition happens when the body’s immune system mistakes its own tissues and organs as foreign, making proteins called autoantibodies that attack them.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the disease causes inflammation, affecting joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.
It’s still unknown what causes lupus but sunlight, stress, smoking, certain medicines, and viruses may trigger symptoms in people who are most likely to get lupus due to their genes.
Hormones such as estrogen. Lupus is more common in women during their childbearing years when estrogen levels are highest. Problems with the immune system.
The condition affects around one in 200 people in the US and UK, more than five millioe worldwide.
There is no cure for the disease but treatments can help reduce symptoms. No two cases of lupus are the same, making it notoriously difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms of lupus include pleural effusions (a build up of fluid in the lungs), heart and kidney problems, arthritis and and Raynaud’s phenomenon (when fingers turn white or blue in response to stress or cold). A butterfly rash across the face is also a key sign
One telltale sign is a facial rash that looks like a butterfly across both cheeks, but it does not occur in all cases — including Gomez’s.
Symptoms can vary in severity and last for different amounts of time. Most lupus sufferers have mild symptoms that flare up into more temporary severe episodes from time to time.
The most common symptoms are tiredness, fever, joint pain such as stiffness and swelling, skin lesions, shortness of breath and chest pain.
Dry eyes, headaches, confusion and memory loss, and fingers turning white or blue in the cold or when someone is stressed can also occur.
The signs are similar to those for many other illnesses, which means it is tricky to know when it is lupus.
Some experts have dubbed the condition the ‘great masquerader’ for this reason.
The LFA’s report, published yesterday, said that lupus can take up to six years or even longer to diagnose due to the disease’s lack of a clear definition.
Delays in diagnosis can even lead to premature deaths, it said.
There are only diagnostic criteria for the most serious and common kind of lupus.
The LFA hopes that creating a definition that encompasses the whole spectrum of the disease will reduce the time for patients to get a diagnosis.
Some people are born predisposed to lupus, which infections, certain medications or sunlight could bring on.
The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor if you have an unexplained rash or a fever, aching or fatigue that persists.
Sixty percent of people with lupus will have kidney complications.
One such complication is lupus nephritis, which happens when lupus autoantibodies attack the parts of the kidneys that filter out waste.
This can inflame the kidneys and cause them not to work properly and even fail.
Selena Gomes shared a clip to TikTok earlier this month showing off her makeup and skincare routine, in which her hands appeared unsteady.
The 30-year-old singer-songwriter later clarified that the shakiness was indeed a side effect brought on by her lupus medication.
In 2017, Ms Gomez received a kidney transplant from her best friend due to her lupus condition.
As with most people who have had transplants, Ms Gomez will take medication to suppress her immune system, which can cause shaky hands.
Immunosuppressants may activate the binding sites on muscle cells, which causes tremors.