American pop music celebrity Selena Gomez is known for her background as a Disney actress, her hit songs and her tumultuous romance with Canadian teen heartthrob Justin Bieber. Gomez recently joined the ranks of celebrities such as Seal, Lady Gaga and Toni Braxton, who have all been diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus.
When Gomez and Bieber experienced romantic turmoil a few months ago, she succumbed to a bout of depression that affected her more than just emotionally; she also had physical symptoms such as headaches, tingling and skin inflammation. It turns out that Gomez had more than just depression caused by love doldrums; she is now aware that she is one of the five million people around the world who live with lupus.
Understanding LupusSimilar to migraines, lupus is a disease without a cure. This autoimmune condition affects several systems and presents several symptoms. Women are more likely to be affected by lupus than men. In the United States, more than a million women live with lupus.
In some cases, lupus can advance significantly and threaten a patient's life. Lupus patients must deal with periods in which their illness worsens to the point that their quality of life is sharply diminished. This condition can be treated with immunosuppressive drug therapy.
Similarities between Lupus and MigrainesPatients who live with lupus may also suffer from migraines. These two conditions share many symptoms, including:
- Blurred vision
Two aspects of lupus that also make it similar to migraines is that both conditions are more often diagnosed in young women, who may no longer be affected by lupus by the time they celebrate their 40th birthday.
Lupus patients are more prone to getting headaches. In fact, some physicians have proposed that the effect of lupus in the central nervous system cause headaches; however, clinical research studies do not provide too much support in this regard. Many lupus patients also live with chronic migraine conditions, and their autoimmune disease often causes them to suffer more painful headache episodes with greater frequency.
Patients who live with both lupus and migraines have to follow special treatment regimens that do not compromise their autoimmune systems. Since lupus tends to strain the central nervous systems, patients are more likely to succumb to stress; in turn, this can trigger migraine episodes.
Migraine patients who live with lupus can improve their quality of life by sticking closely to their medication regimens and preventing flare-ups. When lupus flare-ups occur, tension headaches and migraines are likely to follow. Achieving the right balance in terms of medications is paramount when developing treatment strategies for lupus patients who also suffer from migraines; side effects from immunosuppressive medications may trigger headaches while some migraine prevention drugs could exacerbate lupus flare-ups.