Selena Gomez has revealed that she has lupus. Concerns about the 23-year-old's health were first raised in 2013, when she cancelled a tour of Asia and Australia. The pop singer has revealed her break was really about her lupus diagnosis, and her fears of having a stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body's immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal tissue. This process can lead to destruction of the kidney, heart, brain, spine, and lung tissue. It can affect almost any system in the body but its exact cause is unknown. Symptoms can include fever, a butterfly shaped rash on the face, hair loss, fatigue and painful joints. Lupus is currently treated by drugs, and by chemotherapy designed to suppress the action of the immune system.
It's more prevalent in African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian women, aged 15-35. Lupus sufferers often try to keep out of direct sunlight as sunshine can worsen the disease.
Gomez later sought treatment at the Dawn at the Meadows rehab facility, with her representatives denying she was dealing with substance abuse. The treatment center handles youth rehab of all kinds, but the assumption among many was that Gomez had been admitted for some kind of addiction help. Her rep denied it at the time.
Selena Gomez revealed the diagnosis in an interview with Billboard magazine. Gomez was scathing and unapologetic with her comments.
"I was diagnosed with lupus, and I've been through chemotherapy. That's what my break was really about. I could've had a stroke. I wanted so badly to say, 'You guys have no idea. I'm in chemotherapy. You're a**holes.' I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again."The concern Selena has over having a stroke is very serious. Dr. Joan Merrill, medical director of the Lupus Foundation of America, discussed the disease's severity with CNN.
"There can be an increased risk of... strokes, blood clotting in the legs or even heart attacks. Chemotherapy can stop the more aggressive types of lupus very quickly, and people can do very well on it. The dosages are usually less than what cancer patients take."Lupus tends to flare up and then go into remission. But it's manageable with the right treatment and change of lifestyle and diet. Many times, sufferers are tired and lethargic. The fact that Gomez has lupus explains the rumors of drugs and depression.
The use of chemotherapy is advised when lupus has reached a severe stage, according to The Cleveland Clinic's website. Whatever the course of her treatment, it's not going to be easy for Gomez.
Gomez has been a UNICEF ambassador since she was 17-years-old. The turn of events in tabloids has turned Selena sour against the media. But the anger and disappointment has helped her record Revival. Gomez is understandably reluctant to share her world and feelings with others now. Her experience with having lupus and its symptoms made people assume the worst.
There were also allegations that Selena left the treatment center and was partying. Gomez was said to be at the Sundance Film Festival with Justin Bieber. Once again her reps went into damage control to clear the air.
The actual diagnosis for lupus came out years earlier. In a 2013 article by Popdust, a source told the website that Selena had been going full throttle and needed to rest. Lupus was catching up with her. She needed time to learn about the disease and take better care of herself.
Lupus is incurable but treatable. Eighty to 90 percent of those who are diagnosed with the disease live full productive lives.
[Photos by Anthony Harvey, Frazier Harrison / Getty Images]