Lupus and the Brain

Among the many organs that lupus can effect is the brain. Most people do not think of this as something to worry about but unfortunately it is a potential problem that lupus sufferers may have to contend with.

The first signs of lupus affecting the brain are depression, seizures or memory loss. But before the health care provider can be sure how to treat this they must determine if it is lupus or a clotting disorder that often accompanies lupus that is causing the problem.

This disorder, called Hughes disease, is known to effect up to fifty percent of lupus patients. It is caused by antiphospholipid syndrome, also called APS. It is important for the health care provider to determine if it is a lupus issue or a Hughes disorder issue since treatment is different for each.

Depression

The first signs of this lupus brain disease are depression. There may be headaches as well. It was found that more lupus sufferers who had headaches also had depression or mood swings.

Once the lupus is coming under control, as the patient follows their treatment plan, the depression will begin to diminish and should completely disappear. Sometimes anti-depressants are used to help get this lupus symptom taken care of.

Recent European studies have shown that sixty six percent of lupus patients suffer from headaches. Of these thirty eight percent have migraines while thirty six percent have tension headaches. As a matter of fact lupus sufferers have twice the number of migraines as those who do not have lupus.

The researchers are trying to find the tie in between headaches and lupus. While some say that chronic headaches do not reflect having lupus others show that a high percentage of lupus sufferers have been having headaches since they were in their teens.

Testing

Some of the tests to determine if the headaches are lupus related or from Hughes disease include blood pressure checks, blood tests that will reveal by a specific test if it is APS or not as well as a sinus examination, and a CT scan.

If it is a lupus headache there is medication to be taken daily that can help. APS headaches fall into this category. APS can also be accompanied by tremors of the head and in the hands.

Lupus brain disease can have some frightening symptoms; this includes seizures. They can happen as febrile seizures; those associated with high fevers or they can occur because the lupus has flared but is not as of yet back under control. As soon as the lupus is treated properly the seizures will stop.

There can also be noticeable personality alterations if the brain is affected by the lupus. If it is really bad there can be severe mental derangement though this is rare. There can also be memory loss which can range from mild to drastic.

Fortunately when the lupus comes back under control these problems seem to disappear. That means that even with something as worrisome as lupus that affects the brain the key is to listen to your doctor and get treatment.

photo by Seung Lab/Flickr

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