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May 7, 2015

Healthy Living Looks at Lupus

May is Lupus Awareness Month. As a part of the commemoration people living with lupus, or ‘luppies’ as they are called, are trying to educate the wider public about this chronic disease. So tonight, on Healthy Living we sit down with Internist and Intensivist, Doctor Jorge Hidalgo to learn what it is like for people living with lupus.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It’s not a condition you hear about very often and typically if you meet a person living with lupus you wouldn’t see any signs of illness. That’s why every May, there is an effort made to educate the public on this chronic disease. Doctor Hidalgo explains how lupus affects the body.


Jorge Hidalgo

Dr. Jorge Hidalgo, Internist & Intensivist

“We need to start with the basics and the basics is our immune system. Our immune system is like our army in the body that protects us against bacteria and cancer cells and whatever other foreign body that intends to attack out body. What happens in those conditions is like this army, one branch of the army, begin to fight among themselves and then as we are getting under the disease, other branches of the army goes on and joins the fight. And this is exactly what is happening with lupus; it’s a disorder where the body creates antibodies and attacks its own self.”


Since the immune system is the defense for the entire body, lupus can affect anything: your skin, your joints, your blood, even major organs like your kidneys and heart. With a multitude of symptoms that could be lupus, the diagnosis is based on exclusion, which means other diseases have to be ruled out before lupus is confirmed.


Dr. Jorge Hidalgo

“As the name suggests systemic erythematosus lupus….it can affect any organ in the body. Most of the time at the beginning it is a lot of inflammation with joint ache and a lot of skin rashes and the classic rash that everyone sees in the internet is the butterfly rash in the face. We usually say lupus is an exclusion diagnosis. We think about it, but of course we exclude more common things before we decided run the confirmation test. People are more knowledgeable about this condition because it is seen more often than before. We don’t have statistics at this point; I believe we are working on that so I don’t have the numbers. In terms of frequency, we can say and this is basically around the world, we have a ratio of ten females in the room versus one male in the room.”


Nonetheless, children, elderly persons as well as men of all ages have been diagnosed with lupus. There is no known cause for the disease and there is no cure. “Luppies” will take medication to manage the symptoms and boost their immune system. But the disease will affect each person differently.


Dr. Jorge Hidalgo

“There are some people who are well-controlled; most of the times they don’t have problems. They are patients for more than twenty years and they don’t have problem. There are other people that the immune system responds in a different way and are more sensitive. Some of the things that we usually try to recommend and we usually do is check ups twice a year and we monitor the kidneys because lupus is also a condition that can affect the kidney. We need to monitor the kidneys very often. Some people are very sensitive to the sun.”


Dr. Hidalgo encourages persons who have some early symptoms to visit the doctor.


Dr. Jorge Hidalgo

“It’s a condition that you need to be aware. If you notice that you have skin rashes easily; you have joint pains, you have fatigue, then just ask your family physician if it is something that can be related or no. And ask if you need to be tested or not.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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