What is lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues by mistake. This can damage many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. There are several kinds of lupus:
• Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type. It can be mild or severe and can affect many parts of the body.
• Discoid lupus causes a red rash that doesn’t go away
• Subacute cutaneous lupus causes sores after being out in the sun
• Drug-induced lupus is caused by certain medicines. It usually goes away when you stop taking the medicine.
• Neonatal lupus, which is rare, affects newborns. It is probably caused by certain antibodies from the mother.
Who gets lupus?
Anyone can get lupus, but women are most at risk. Lupus is two to three times more common in African American women than in Caucasian women. It’s also more common in Hispanic, Asian, and Native American women. African American and Hispanic women are more likely to have severe forms of lupus.
What causes lupus?
The cause of lupus is not known.
What are the symptoms of lupus?
Lupus can have many symptoms, and they differ from person to person. Some of the more common ones are
• Pain or swelling in joints
• Muscle pain
• Fever with no known cause
• Red rashes, most often on the face (also called the “butterfly rash”)
• Chest pain when taking a deep breath
• Hair loss
• Pale or purple fingers or toes
• Sensitivity to the sun
• Swelling in legs or around eyes
• Mouth ulcers
• Swollen glands
• Feeling very tired
Symptoms may come and go. When you are having symptoms, it is called a flare. Flares can range from mild to severe. New symptoms may appear at any time.
How do I know if I have lupus?
There is no single test to diagnose lupus, and it’s often mistaken for other diseases. So it may take months or years for a doctor to diagnose it. Your doctor may use many tools to make a diagnosis.