Monday, June 9, 2008
Lyme and Lupus
Lupus and Lyme are two entirely different diseases, aren't they? Lupus, or Systemic Lupus Erythematosis is an autoimmune disease. It is known to be associated with various genetic variations. It is more common with certain HLA types. Multiple susceptibility genes have been identified. It is more common in the female gender. Contemporary texts state that it the interaction of environmental factors with genetic predisposition that leads to disease expression. Epstein Barr virus antibodies are more prevalent in idividuals with Lupus. The hallmark of Lupus is that it is a progressive multi system autoimmune disorder that affects a variety of organ symptoms over time. It is associated with autoimmune antibodies. Many of the symptoms of Lupus also occur in patients who test positive for Lyme disease. Many Lyme patients may also have some positive Lupus antibodies, including the ANA, antinuclear antibody. There can be a great deal of similarities in the two diseases. Many Lyme patients have the same arthritis and muscle pains as Lupus patients. The characteristic rashes, when present are quite different. Both have changes in blood counts with a low white blood cell level frequently seen. Both have a similar neurological picture. The both can have cognitive dysfunction, headache, meningitis and myelopathy (a disorder of spinal nerves). They can have similar heart and lung issues with fluid around the heart and lungs. They can both have eye involvement. The kidney disease of Lupus is not seen in Lyme. It is interesting that Plaquenil is a medication which has been found to be useful in both disorders. Lupus is a distinct inherited autoimmune disease. It is possible that Lyme disease can be a major environmental factor which triggers the disorder in susceptible individuals. At any rate, the two diseases can look very similar and most be sorted out in the process of differential diagnosis.