Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body's natural defense system (immune system) attacks healthy tissues instead of attacking only things like bacteria and viruses. This causes inflammation.
people with lupus have only mild symptoms, the disease is lifelong and can
become severe. But most people can control their symptoms and prevent severe
damage to their organs. They do this by seeing their doctors often for
checkups, getting enough rest and exercise, and taking medicines.
This topic focuses on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common
and most serious type of lupus. But there are other types of lupus, such as discoid or cutaneous lupus, drug-induced systemic lupus, and neonatal lupus.
The exact cause of lupus is not
known. Experts believe that some people are born with certain
genes that affect how the immune system works. These people are more likely to get lupus. Then a number of other things can trigger
lupus attacks. These include viral infections, including the virus that causes
mononucleosis, and sunlight.
Although these things can trigger
lupus, they may affect one person but not another person.
Lupus symptoms vary
widely, and they come and go. The times when symptoms get worse are called
relapses, or flares. The times when symptoms are under control are called
Common symptoms include feeling very tired and having
joint pain or swelling (arthritis), a fever, and a
skin rash . The rash often happens after you have been in the sun. You may have mouth sores
and hair loss. Over time, some people with lupus have problems with
the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood cells, or
There is no single test
for lupus. Because lupus affects different people in different ways, it can be
hard to diagnose.
Your doctor will check for lupus by examining
you, asking you questions about your symptoms and past health, and doing some urine and blood tests.
Treatment for lupus may include:
- Corticosteroid cream for
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for mild joint or muscle pain and
- Antimalarial medicines to treat fatigue, joint pain,
and skin rashes.
- Corticosteroid pills if other medicines aren't controlling
The doctor may also recommend
other medicines that slow down the immune system (immunosuppressants).