Pop singer Selena Gomez revealed in Billborad that she was suffering from Lupus – an autoimmune disease that affects the various tissues and organs of the body. The 23 year old admitted that her struggle with the disease was the actual reason behind her recent pause from the spotlight, and why she canceled a section of her tour in 2013.

Selena Gomez Struggles With Lupus

“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”, stated Gomez.

What is Lupus?

Nearly 1.5 million Americans suffer from lupus, the majority being women aged 15 to 44. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, it is a chronic disease that can target any area of the body, such as the joints, skin, kidneys, and even blood.

Individuals who suffer from lupus basically goes haywire; rather than fighting foreign agents like bacteria and viruses with antibodies, the body starts to produce ‘autoantibodies’ – the kind that attack healthy tissues and organs.

Symptoms commonly associated with lupus are fever, fatigue, painful joints, unexplained weight loss, rash, anemia, hearing loss, mouth ulcers and abnormal bloating.

As Gomez put it, “”I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again”. As explained by Dr. Joan Merrill, Medical Director of the Lupus Foundation of America, her fear of having a stroke was justifiable. Lupus has been associated with an increased likelihood of stroke and developing blood clots in the legs and heart.

What is lupus? Is Chemotherapy Generally Recommended?

Treatment regimes depend on the severity of the disease. For mild cases, immunosuppressants or anti-inflammatories like aspirins or steroids are usually administered. In severe cases, however, chemotherapy drugs are given, the most common being Methotrexate and Cyclophosphamide.

According to Milder, chemotherapy can help in stopping extremely aggressive forms of lupus effectively, and most people generally recover well. Also, the dosage of chemotherapy given to lupus patients is much less than that for cancer patients.

However, lupus is highly unpredictable, flaring up and instantaneously going into remission; Proper management and treatment is very important.