The course of lupus varies by individual and is hard to predict, because symptoms come and go. Lupus usually develops so slowly that a person may not notice the symptoms for a long time. Sometimes lupus develops and progresses rapidly.
Periods of time when you have lupus symptoms are called flares or relapses. Periods of time when your symptoms are under control are called remissions. Flares and remissions can occur abruptly, unexpectedly, and without clear cause. There is no way to predict when a flare will happen, how bad it will be, or how long it will last. When you have a lupus flare, you may have new symptoms in addition to those you have had in the past.
Amanda Greene, 43, stashes a tube of sunscreen in her purse and car so that she can reapply it throughout the day -- as frequently as some women touch up their makeup. Using sun protection is second nature for Greene, who was diagnosed with lupus (SLE) at 15 and is photosensitive.
"I use it from head to toe 365 days a year, whether it's gray or sunny," says Greene, a Los Angeles lupus advocate. "Some women reapply lipstick -- I reapply my SPF. It's part of living with lupus."
Women who have lupus...
Children can get lupus, though it more commonly develops in the teen years or later. Lupus in children appears to be more severe than in adults when vital organs, such as the kidneys and heart, are involved.
Most people with lupus are able to continue their usual daily activities. But when your symptoms flare, you may find that you need to cut back on your activity level, get help with child care, or change the way you work. Or you may find that you need time off from all daily activities.
Most people with lupus can expect to live a normal or near-normal life span. This depends on how severe your disease is, whether it affects vital organs (such as the kidneys), and how severely these organs are affected.
A key to living with lupus is communication. Stay in touch with your doctor about new or increased symptoms, side effects of medicines, and your worries and anxieties. Talk with your family, friends, and employer so they understand what you can and can't do, and what they can do to support you.
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