Signs of Lupus in women

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), also known simply as lupus, is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in many parts of the body.[1] Symptoms vary between people and may be mild to severe. Common symptoms include painful and swollen joints, fever, chest pain, hair loss, mouth ulcers, swollen lymph nodes, feeling tired, and a red rash which is most commonly on the face. Often there are periods of illness, called flares, and periods of remission when there are few symptoms.[1]

The cause is not entirely clear.[1] It is believed to involve hormonal, environmental, and genetic factors.[2] Among identical twins, if one is affected there is a 24% chance the other one will be as well.[1] Female sex hormones, sunlight, smoking, vitamin D deficiency, and certain infections, are also believed to increase the risk.[2] The mechanism involves an immune response by autoantibodies against a person’s own tissues. These are most commonly anti-nuclear antibodies and they result in inflammation. Diagnosis can be difficult and is based on a combination of symptoms and laboratory tests. There are a number of other kinds of lupus erythematosus including discoid lupus erythematosus, neonatal lupus, and subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus

Epidemiology

The global rates of SLE are approximately 20-70 per 100,000 people. In females, the rate is highest between 45-64 year of age. The lowest overall rate exists in Iceland and Japan. The highest rates exist in US and France. However, there is no sufficient evidence to conclude that SLE is less common in some countries compared to others, since there is significant environmental variability in these countries. For example, different countries receive different levels of sunlight, and exposure to UV rays affects dermatological symptoms of SLE. Certain studies hypothesize that a genetic connection exists between race and lupus which affects disease prevalence. If this is true, the racial composition of countries affects disease, and will cause the incidence in a country to change as the racial makeup changes. In order to understand if this is true, countries with largely homogenous and racially stable populations should be studied to better understand incidence.[5] Rates of disease in the developing world are unclear.[6]

The rate of SLE varies between countries, ethnicity, sex, and changes over time.[87] In the United States, one estimate of the rate of SLE is 53 per 100,000;[87] other estimates range from 322,000 to over 1 million.[88] In Northern Europe the rate is about 40 per 100,000 people.[89] SLE occurs more frequently and with greater severity among those of non-European descent.[88] That rate has been found to be as high as 159 per 100,000 among those of Afro-Caribbean descent.[87] Childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus generally presents between the ages of 3 and 15 and is four time more common in girls.[90]

While the onset and persistence of SLE can show disparities between genders, socioeconomic status also plays a major role. Women with SLE and of lower socioeconomic status have been shown to have higher depression scores, higher body mass index, and more restricted access to medical care than women of higher socioeconomic statuses with the illness. People with SLE had more self-reported anxiety and depression scores if they were from a lower socioeconomic status.[91]

Ethnicity

There are assertions that race affects the rate of SLE. However, a 2010 review of studies which correlate race and SLE identified several sources of systematic and methodological error, indicating that the connection between race and SLE may be spurious.[92] For example, studies show that social support is a modulating factor which buffers against SLE-related damage and maintains physiological functionality.[92] Studies have not been conducted to determine whether people of different racial backgrounds receive differing levels of social support.[92] If there is a difference, this could act as a confounding variable in studies correlating race and SLE. Another caveat to note when examining studies about SLE is that symptoms are often self-reported. This process introduces additional sources of methodological error. Studies have shown that self-reported data is affected by more than just the patients experience with the disease- social support, the level of helplessness, and abnormal illness-related behaviors also factor into a self-assessment. Additionally, other factors like the degree of social support which a person receives, socioeconomic status, health insurance, and access to care can contribute to an individual’s disease progression.[92][93] It is important to note that racial differences in lupus progression have not been found in studies that control for the socioeconomic status [SES] of participants.[92][94] Studies that control for the SES of its participants have found that non-white people have more abrupt disease onset compared to white people and that their disease progresses more quickly. Non-white patients often report more hematological, serosal, neurological, and renal symptoms. However, the severity of symptoms and mortality are both similar in white and non-white patients. Studies that report different rates of disease progression in late-stage SLE are most likely reflecting differences in socioeconomic status and the corresponding access to care.[92] The people who receive medical care often have accrued less disease-related damage and are less likely to be below the poverty line.[94] Additional studies have found that education, marital status, occupation, and income create a social context which contributes to disease progression.[92]

Sex

SLE, like many autoimmune diseases, affects females more frequently than males, at a rate of about 9 to 1.[3][87] The X chromosome carries immunological related genes, which can mutate and contribute to the onset of SLE. The Y chromosome has no identified mutations associated with autoimmune disease.[95]

Hormonal mechanisms could explain the increased incidence of SLE in females. The onset of SLE could be attributed to the elevated hydroxylation of estrogen and the abnormally decreased levels of androgens in females. In addition, differences in GnRH signalling have also shown to contribute to the onset of SLE. While females are more likely to relapse than males, the intensity of these relapses is the same for both sexes.[96]

In addition to hormonal mechanisms, specific genetic influences found on the X chromosome may also contribute to the development of SLE. Studies indicate that the X chromosome can determine the levels of sex hormones. A study has shown an association between Klinefelter syndrome and SLE. XXY males with SLE have an abnormal X-Y translocation resulting in the partial triplication of the PAR1 gene region.


Keeping Your Immune System Healthy

How do you keep the immune system active and healthy? All the books say essentially the same thing— simply by living well. And “living well” involves common sense practices such as eating a healthful diet, getting enough sleep, exercising, drinking alcohol only in moderation, and avoiding stress. A few additional tips for keeping the immune system healthy include:

  • Avoid or prevent exposure to environmental toxins such as mercury, poisons and heavy metals.
  • Avoid taking unnecessary drugs.
  • Understand that diet can influence your immune system, and choose your foods wisely.
  • Have sex. Sexual activity has been found to be good for the immune system because it activates the hormones that are regulated by the act of having sex and helps maintain a healthy hormone balance.

References

Take care of your Thyroid gland, 240% increase in Thyroid cancer among women

Hypothyroidism

It happens when your thyroid gland, located at the front of your neck, doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone (underactive thyroid). There are several types of hypothyroidism. The most common is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. The disease affects both sexes and all ages, but is most common in women over age 60. Because the thyroid gland helps regulate your metabolism, low thyroid levels cause your body to slow down and can affect everything from appetite to body temperature. Symptoms can appear over time and can be hard to diagnose. Left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause serious health complications.

Signs and Symptoms

Slow pulse

Fatigue

Hoarse voice, slowed speech

Goiter (caused by swollen thyroid gland)

Sensitivity to cold

Weight gain

Constipation

Dry, scaly, thick, coarse hair

Numbness in fingers or hands

Confusion, depression, dementia

Headaches

Menstrual problems

In children, slowed growth, delayed teething, and slow mental development

What Causes It?

There are different kinds of hypothyroidism with different causes. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, antibodies in the blood mistakenly attack the thyroid gland and start to destroy it. Post-therapeutic hypothyroidism occurs when treatment for hyperthyroidism leaves the thyroid unable to produce enough thyroid hormone. And hypothyroidism with goiter happens when you don’t get enough iodine in your diet. In the developed world iodine is added to salt so goiter is rare, although it still happens in undeveloped countries.

What to Expect at Your Provider’s Office

Your thyroid gland produces two main thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. In addition, the pituitary gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which helps control how much T3 and T4 the thyroid makes. Your health care provider will draw blood to measure levels TSH. When levels of thyroid hormones are low, your body produces more TSH to increase production of thyroid hormones. Your doctor may also test for levels of T3 or T4.

Natural medicine practitioners may pay particular attention to levels of T3 hormone. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone. Your thyroid gland makes some T3, but the body also converts T4 into T3. If you are unable to convert T4 to T3, your laboratory tests for T4 may be normal, but you still may have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Talk to your doctor about including T3 laboratory tests in the treatment of your hypothyroidism.

Treatment Options

Drug Therapies

Your health care provider will prescribe a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine (Levothroid, Synthroid, Unithroid) that you will take daily. A natural dessicated thyroid hormone drug, made from the thyroid glands of pigs, is also available by prescription. Your doctor will want to adjust your dose over a period of several weeks, after regular blood tests to check the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

If you have hypothyroidism, you need conventional medical treatment. Nutrition and herbs can help support conventional treatment, but should not be used by themselves to treat hypothyroidism.

Nutrition and Supplements

Following these nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
Eat foods high in B-vitamins and iron, such as whole grains (if no allergy), fresh vegetables, and sea vegetables.
Avoid foods that interfere with thyroid function, including broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, soybeans, peanuts, linseed, pine nuts, millet, cassava, and mustard greens.
If you take thyroid hormone medication, talk to your doctor before eating soy products. There is some evidence soy may interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone.
Taking iron supplements may interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone medication, so ask your doctor before taking iron.

Note: A goitrogen is a substance that suppresses the function of the thyroid gland by inhibiting iodine uptake, and these things are called goitrogens because they tend to cause goiter, which is a swelling of the thyroid gland. Some foods have been shown to be goitrogenic when they’re eaten in excess or if the person’s background intake of iodine is low. These are things like cassava, which is otherwise known as yuca, that’s how I usually talk about it; soy products; millet; sweet potatoes; cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy; and then most of the dark leafy greens like kale and collard greens.

Over the counter medications can also affect your thyroid glands.

Eat foods high in antioxidants, including fruits (such as blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes) and vegetables (such as squash and bell pepper).
Avoid alcohol and tobacco. Talk to your doctor before increasing your caffeine intake, as caffeine impacts several conditions and medications.

These supplements may also help:
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, to help decrease inflammation and help with immunity. Omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you already take blood-thinning medication. Ask your doctor before taking omega-3 fatty acids if you take blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) or if you have a bleeding disorder.
L-tyrosine, 500 mg two to three times daily. The thyroid gland combines tyrosine and iodine to make thyroid hormone. If you are taking prescription thyroid hormone medication, you should never take L-tyrosine without direction from your doctor. Do not take L-tyrosine if you have high blood pressure or have symptoms of mania.
Do not take an iodine supplement unless your doctor tells you to. Iodine is only effective when hypothyroidism is caused by iodine deficiency, which is rare in the developed world. And too much iodine can actually cause hypothyroidism.

Herbs

Herbs are a way to strengthen and tone the body’s systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to get your problem diagnosed before starting any treatment. You may use herbs may as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). People with a history of alcoholism should not take tinctures. Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 – 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 – 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 – 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures singly or in combination as noted.

Few herbs have been studied for treating hypothyroidism. More research is needed.
Coleus (Coleus forskohlii), for low thyroid function. Coleus may interfere with certain medications, including some blood pressure medicines, nitrogylcern, and blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin). Talk to your doctor.
Guggul (Commiphora mukul), for low thyroid support. Guggul may interfere with estrogen, birth control pills, and other medications. Talk with your doctor.
Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus), for low thyroid support. Do not take bladderwrack unless directed by your doctor. Bladderwrack contains iodine. Although lack of iodine can cause hypothyroidism, most cases of hypothyroidism in the developed world are not caused by iodine deficiency. In fact, too much iodine can actually cause hypothyroidism. Bladderwrack may also contain toxic heavy metals.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy may be useful as a supportive therapy.

Physical Medicine

Contrast hydrotherapy (application of hot and cold) to the neck and throat may stimulate thyroid function. Alternate 3 minutes hot with 1 minute cold. Repeat three times for one set. Do two to three sets per day.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture may be helpful in correcting hormonal imbalances, including thyroid disorders.

Following Up

After you start on thyroid hormone replacement therapy, your provider will want you to have frequent checkups to monitor its effectiveness.

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Wash your veggies with salt water or diluted vinegar to remove excess pesticides. Eat a little of cooked cruciferous veggies than raw ones.