A year after revealing she has lupus, Selena Gomez is now taking a break to deal with side effects of the disease. According to the “Kill Em With Kindness” singer, she is dealing with “anxiety, panic attacks and depression” as a result of her illness and wants to focus on maintaining her health.
“I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off,” she told People Wednesday. “I need to face this head on to ensure I am doing everything possible to be my best. I know I am not alone by sharing this, I hope others will be encouraged to address their own issues.”
With a disease that affects nearly 5 million people in the world, Gomez is definitely not alone. Here are six things you should know about lupus:
1. It’s A Chronic, Autoimmune Disease
Lupus is a condition that can cause damage to any part of your body, including your skin, joints and organs. Symptoms of the disease can last anywhere from six weeks to several years. Lupus affects the immune system and causes it to create autoantibodies that destroy and attack healthy tissue. According to Lupus.org, “these autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain and damage in various parts of the body.”
2. It’s Not Contagious
Lupus cannot be caught from someone suffering from the disease. It can also not be spread through sexual contact.
3. 1.5 Million People Have Lupus
According to Lupus.org, in the United States alone nearly 1.5 million people may have lupus but the actual number could be even higher as there have been no large-scale studies to show how many people are actually living with the disease. And when it comes to that 1.5 million, the majority of lupus patients tend to be women. It is believed that only four to 18 percent of lupus patients are male.
4. There Is No Cure
Currently, there is no cure for the disease but with treatment, many lupus patients can live an active, long life.
5. Lupus Can Cause Anxiety
Like many diseases, people suffering from lupus can develop anxiety. Due to the uncertainty of the disease in regards to symptoms coming and going, as well as medication that some patients take, an anxiety condition could develop.
6. Women Of Color Are More Susceptible To Lupus
Not only does lupus affect women more, it also affects women of color more. Black women are three times more likely than white women to get lupus, while Asian and Latina women are two times more likely.