Lupus, coming from the name systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is a long-term or chronic autoimmune disorder affecting the organs, skin, joints, kidneys and brain. Lupus can vary widely in its severity and how or which parts of the body it affects. Below you will find an overview of the disease, including what might cause it and common risk factors, diagnosing, treatments, and possible symptoms someone with lupus might experience.

Causes of Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs when your immune system attacks healthy tissue can lead to chronic, long-term inflammation. There is no single cause of lupus though it can be passed down in the family from a mother or grandmother. It is also more common in men than women and can occur at any age. People between 10 and 50 get lupus more often than younger children or older adults. Asian and African American individuals get it more often than other nationalities. It may also be caused by some drugs, which is called drug-induced lupus erythematosus.

Symptoms of Lupus

The signs and symptoms vary widely depending on the person and type of lupus. In general, joints such as the hands, wrists, fingers, and knees can be affected by lupus. Common signs and symptoms of lupus include chest pain when taking a deep breath, fever, fatigue, general discomfort or ill feeling, uneasiness, hair loss, mouth sores, sensitivity to sunlight, swollen lymph nodes, or a skin rash over the cheeks and bridge of nose, also called a butterfly rash. Depending on the part of body affected, you may experience other symptoms such as headaches, seizures, tingling, vision problems, personality changes, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, coughing up blood, abnormal heart rhythms or patchy skin color.

Diagnosing and Treating Lupus

In order to be diagnosed with lupus, you need to have at least 4 of the common signs of the disease. A variety of tests will be performed including a complete blood count, chest x-ray, antibody tests, kidney biopsy, urinalysis, kidney function blood tests, ESR, liver function blood tests, rheumatoid factor, or complement components test. There is currently no cure for lupus but it can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid creams for skin rash, and low-dose corticosteroids for skin and arthritis symptoms. Treatment for severe or advanced stages of lupus include a high-dose corticosteroid or medications for decreasing your immune system response, and a drug that blocks cell growth such as cytotoxic drugs.

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