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LUPUS: Expert identifies recurring malaria, typhoid as symptoms



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A Consultant Rheumatologist, Dr Hakeem Olaosebikan, says Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) disease should be suspected if a person, especially female had recurring malaria or typhoid illness.

Olaosebikan, who works at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

Lupus or SLE is an inflammatory or autoimmune disease that occurs when the body system attacks its own tissues and organs.

Inflammation resulting from lupus may affect various body organs including the skin, kidneys, brain, blood cells, lungs, heart and the joints.

Olaosebikan, who said the country needed national prevalence estimate for lupus disease, however, said that over 1,000 cases of lupus had been diagnosed in the last 10 years in Nigeria.

He explained that lupus symptoms varied from patient to patient, noting that some patients may exhibit zero, mild or moderate symptoms at the time of diagnosis.

According to him, few percentages of patients have severe life-threatening symptoms that may lead to organ damage and require critical care.

“Suspect lupus if person (usually female) has unexplained fever (recurrent malaria or typhoid illness), progressive weight loss, extreme tiredness, painful swollen joints, rashes on the face and rash when exposed to sun.

“Suspect lupus if the patient has unexplained loss of hair or scar on the scalp without hair and recurrent sores in the mouth, nose and throat.

“Person with unexplained low blood level and multiple blood transfusion, as well as unexplained low blood counts may have lupus,” he said.

The rheumatologist, who said lupus diseases are not curable but could be treated and managed if diagnosed early, however, said that the treatment is life-long like hypertension and diabetes.

Olaosebikan who explained that patients also responded differently to treatment, said some improved with simple drugs, while others may require highly potent and expensive drugs called biologics to get better.


“With regular clinic follow up visits and regular treatment, 80 to 90 per cent of lupus patients are expected to live normal life,” he said.

According to him, flares of lupus can be prevented by avoiding stress and sun exposure, regular use of sunscreen, regular use of drugs, regular clinic appointment visits and strict observance of self-management strategy.

He, however, said that those that succumbed to the illness are those diagnosed late with vital organ damage, those with multiple flares, and those that are not compliant with drug treatment and clinic attendance.

The rheumatologist said that the cause of SLE is unknown, however, noted that environmental, hormonal and genetic factors could increase risk of developing SLE.

Olaosebikan added that lupus is common in female than male due to hormonal changes in women, noting that the incident reduces as women approach menopause.

The rheumatologist said that there is no specific prevention measures against lupus, adding that healthy living and lifestyle measures may reduce the risk associated with the disease.

Olaosebikan advised those with family history of lupus to adhere strictly to healthy living and measures which included regular exercise, increase vegetable, fruit and fibre intake.

He called for a reduction in the intake of salt, sugar, salty seasoning, fat and oil, saying it is advisable to avoid excessive weight, tobacco smoking and alcohol.

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