ROCHESTER, Minn. — There is a disease that currently impacts more than 1.5 million Americans, but most do not know much about it.
Lupus has many common symptoms of other sicknesses like extreme fatigue and painful and swollen joints, but with potential kidney failure and inflammation that go along with the autoimmune condition, specialists are even more concerned.
It does not stop those who have it from living though. Olivia is your average 8-year-old girl who loves the outdoors.
“Playing with my friends,” Olivia, of Rochester, said.
But every once in a while, she gets a little sore and exhausted.
“I stay inside and rest,” Olivia said.
That lack of energy at the age of six had her mother concerned.
“She was lacking concentration, she would have aching muscles that would go away with over-the-counter meds, so you just look at it like, oh she played too hard,” Olivia’s mother Lia said.
Olivia eventually wound up in the hospital and that was where she learned she had lupus.
“We don’t know when it’s going to become active, we don’t know what the new symptoms will be, if it’ll re-attack itself, so it’s kind of like always taking things one day at a time,” Lia said.
Olivia is not alone. One in every 200 Americans are believed to live with the disease. It is more frequent in young women in their teens and early 20s.
“We think there may be a role of estrogen that facilitates, that increases the susceptibility, but there’s many different things that cause this,” said Dr. Shreyasee Amin, Associate Professor of Medicine at Mayo and part of the Board of Directors for the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota.
She said symptoms can be as common as fever and skin rashes.
“That can be from just a viral-like illness to other, more typical, autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, so there are many symptoms that are non-specific,” Amin said.
Olivia and her mom have faith in what the doctors are doing.
“Staying on her regiment and doing what her doctors say, she’s been doing successfully well,” Lia said.
Saturday, the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota will be holding their annual Walk for Hope and 5K Run at Essex Park in Rochester. For more information on how you can take part visit their website.