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Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) - What Happens

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.

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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.

Some people with lupus have complications such as kidney and heart problems. There are also concerns if you have lupus and are pregnant.

Living with lupus

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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: May 10, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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