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One in 185 Stricken with Lupus

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Millie Shook with Dr. Walter Chmelewski
RALEIGH — Charles Kuralt died of lupus, agenetic disease where the body basically attacks itself. While you maynot know much about lupus, it's pretty common, affecting one out of every185 Americans. Although lupus can be life-threatening, thousands ofpatients are able to lead productive lives.

Millie Shook has lupus. The pain has gotten so bad in her legs that shehas to use a motorized cart to get around. She was diagnosed 12 yearsago. Shook sought advice because she was having a lot of joint pain andproblems with her hands.

Millie also developed a rash that would come and go-- another sign oflupus. There is no cause, but researchers suspect lupus is a geneticautoimmune disease that causes a person's body to attack itself.

Rheumatologist Dr. Walter Chmelewski says these antibodies do damage toskin, muscle, joints and internal organs. And when the body attacksitself, there is pain. There are often times that Millie feels like shejust has to stay in bed.

Lupus can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms come and go and oftenmimic other illnesses. Rheumatoid arthritis is one particular diagnosiswhich comes up. It involves the same age group and affects the hands withswelling an severe morning stiffness.

Lupus can also be confused withinfections and lingering flu. The key is to get to a doctor if you havecontinuous symptoms.

Lupus is an illness with profound fatigue, unexplained rashes,fevers, chills and joint pain. When these symptoms occur, lupus needs tobe thought of and brought up with a physician. There are simple screeningtests and exams out there that can point folks in the right or wrongdirection.

Millie is moving in the right direction. She's living her life to thefullest even though she has lupus. Lupus is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids. A simple blood test confirms adiagnosis.

For more information about lupus you can contact theLupus Foundation of Americaat1-800-558-0121.

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