Pop star Selena Gomez has revealed that she has been suffering from lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause serious health complications.
Speaking to Billboard magazine, Gomez said she underwent chemotherapy following her diagnosis in 2013, forcing her to cancel tours that year and check into a rehab facility.
Approximately 1.5 million Americans are estimated to suffer from lupus. The disease predominantly affects women between the ages of 15 and 44, although people of any age or sex can have the disease.
Lupus is two to three times more common among women of color. Gomez, who is part-Hispanic, would be at a higher risk for developing lupus. She spoke out about the seriousness of her diagnosis, saying “I could have had a stroke.”
The disease can be life-threatening, causing heart attacks, blood clotting, and strokes when left untreated. A person’s immune system begins to attack their own body instead of viruses, bacteria, and other foreign invaders. Any organ of the body can be damaged, including the brain, lungs, and heart. However, skin and joints are the most common areas affected.
Symptoms can include fatigue, weight loss, joint swelling and pain, hair loss, and fever. Furthermore, a facial rash with a butterfly shape can be a sign of lupus.
There is no cure for lupus, but treatment options can allow people to live with their disease. Gomez underwent chemotherapy, which can be necessary for aggressive cases. Milder cases may be treated with daily medication.
These treatments suppress the immune system, stopping damage to the body. However, because these treatments suppress the immune system, they also increase the risk of infections.
Gomez criticized tabloids for spreading rumors while she was undergoing treatment. At the time Gomez was having chemotherapy, tabloid sites were accusing her of going to rehab for drug addiction. “I was diagnosed with lupus, and I’ve been through chemotherapy,” said Gomez. “That’s what my break was really about.”
Lupus symptoms are hard to predict. Often, people can have periods of time with no symptoms and other times where their symptoms flare up. This means living with the disease can be unpredictable, with some people going years without having noticeable symptoms. Around a quarter of people with lupus have their symptoms flare up each year.
While there is no cure and the disease can require lifelong treatment, lupus patients can expect to manage and live with their condition.
In the years since her diagnosis, Gomez has released a new album, gone on tour, and voiced a character in the animated film Hotel Transylvania 2.
While Gomez is the first celebrity in recent years to reveal a lupus diagnosis, the condition is fairly common among women. Gomez’s diagnosis will likely bring more attention to this disease and the negative impact it can have on women’s health.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Kounang, N., “Selena Gomez reveals she has lupus,” CNN web site, October 08, 2015; http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/08/health/selena-gomez-reveals-she-has-lupus/
Szabo, L., “What Selena Gomez’s lupus diagnosis means for her career,” USA Today web site, October 8, 2015; http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/10/08/lupus-doesnt-have-end-selena-gomezs-career-experts-say/73583752/.
“Understanding Lupus,” Lupus Foundation of America web site, http://www.lupus.org/answers/entry/what-is-lupus, last accessed October 9, 2015.
“What’s New,” Lupus Canada web site, http://www.lupuscanada.org/, last accessed October 9, 2015.