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What is Lupus?

What is Lupus?
October 07
17:52 2016


“Lupus erythematosus  is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body i.e skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body. Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years”

Lupus disease-definition-causes-symptoms

In lupus, immune system does not work properly, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates auto-antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These auto-antibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

Lupus is a disease of :

  • Flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and
  • Remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better)

Types of Lupus:

There are many kinds of lupus. The most common type, systemic lupus erythematosus, affects many parts of the body. Other types of lupus are:

  • Discoid lupus erythematosus—causes a skin rash that doesn’t go away
  • Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus—causes skin sores on parts of the body exposed to sun
  • Drug-induced lupus—can be caused by medications
  • Neonatal lupus—a rare type of lupus that affects newborns.

Signs and symptoms:

Symptoms vary from person to person, and may come and go. Almost everyone with lupus has joint pain and swelling. Some develop arthritis. Frequently affected joints are the fingers, hands, wrists, and knees. Other common symptoms include:

  • chest pain when taking a deep breath
  • Joint pain
  • Oral ulcer
  • fatigue
  • fever with no other cause
  • general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
  • hair loss
  • sensitivity to sunlight
  • skin rash – a “butterfly” rash in about half people with SLE
  • swollen lymph nodes

Who Gets Lupus?

Anyone can get lupus, but it most often affects women. Lupus is also more common in women of African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent than in Caucasian women.

What Causes Lupus?

The cause of lupus is not known. Research suggests that genes play an important role, but genes alone do not determine who gets lupus. It is likely that many factors trigger the disease.

How Is Lupus Diagnosed?

There is no single test to diagnose lupus. It may take months or years for a doctor to diagnose lupus. Your doctor may use many tools to make a diagnosis:

  • Medical history
  • Complete exam
  • Blood tests
  • Skin biopsy (looking at skin samples under a microscope
  • Kidney biopsy (looking at tissue from your kidney under a microscope).


Treatment consists primarily of immunosuppressive drugs e.g., hydroxychloroquine and corticosteroids. In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first new drug for lupus in more than 50 years to be used in the US, belimumab. In addition to medicative therapy, due to the psychological and social impacts that Lupus may have on an individual, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has also been demonstrated to be effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression in lupus sufferers

You may need special kinds of doctors to treat the many symptoms of lupus. Your health care team may include:

  • A family doctor
  • Rheumatologists—doctors who treat arthritis and other diseases that cause swelling in the joints
  • Clinical immunologists—doctors who treat immune system disorders
  • Nephrologists—doctors who treat kidney disease
  • Hematologists—doctors who treat blood disorders
  • Dermatologists—doctors who treat skin diseases
  • Neurologists—doctors who treat problems with the nervous system

Fast Facts about Lupus:

These are some additional facts about lupus that you should know:

  • Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact. You cannot “catch” lupus from someone or “give” lupus to someone.
  • Lupus is not like or related to cancer.  Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above. However, some treatments for lupus may include immunosuppressant drugs that are also used in chemotherapy.
  • Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
  • Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
  • It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
  • Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Most people with lupus develop the disease between the ages of 15-44.
  • Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
  • People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.
  • United Kingdom

  • SLE affects UK females far more than males at a ratio of 7:1. In other words, females are seven times more likely to have the disease.
  • The estimated number of UK females with SLE is 21,700, and the number of UK males with lupus is 3000—a total of 24,700, or 0.041% of the population.

  • SLE is more common amongst certain ethnic groups than others, especially those of African origin.

Celebrities with lupus:


  • Seal


  • Michael Jackson.


  • Selena Gomez

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30: Actress/singer Selena Gomez attends the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Other celebrities include:

  • Flannery O’Connor.
  • Toni Braxton.
  • Ray Walston.
  • J. Dilla.
  • Teddi King.



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