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Systemic lupus erythematosus is a long-term autoimmune disease. This type of disease occurs when the body mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy tissue. According to the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common form of the disease, and is generally referred to simply as "lupus." (LFA)
Lupus causes chronic inflammation that can affect your skin, joints, and vital organs, including your lungs, brain, and kidneys. This condition may present a wide variety of symptoms, many of which mimic other conditions, making diagnosis difficult.
People with mild forms of the disease may experience symptoms that come and go. Common symptoms include:
Moderate to severe lupus may cause long-term complications, such as:
The exact cause of lupus is unknown, and there is no definitive medical test for lupus. However, certain genetic and environmental factors are believed to trigger the disease and increase a person’s risk of developing lupus.
Lupus erythematosus is a serious condition. If you have symptoms of lupus, consult your physician.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is caused by your immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue. In lupus, this leads to chronic inflammation.
The cause of lupus remains unknown. However, certain risk factors have been identified. According to the Mayo Clinic, diagnosis usually occurs between the age of 15 and 40. Women have a higher incidence than men. Lupus is also more common among African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. (Mayo Clinic, 2011)
Symptoms of lupus vary greatly from person to person. Often, they come and go. When symptoms worsen, it is called an episode or flare-up. Some common symptoms of lupus are:
Lupus can attack almost every part of your body, causing a variety of complications.
If lupus attacks your brain, it may cause:
There is no single test that can confirm lupus. Because of the wide array of symptoms, diagnosis can be difficult. Diagnosis is made based on clinical presentation, patient history, physical examination, and a variety of tests, including:
Diagnosis can be made if you have four typical signs of lupus.
Treatment is generally based on your individual symptoms, how often they flare up, and severity of disease. It is important to discuss both the benefits and potential side effects of treatment with your doctor. Medications used to treat lupus include:
Complications will also require treatment.
If you have lupus, you should have regular medical exams. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Lupus is a lifelong condition, but there are things you can do to improve your outlook.
Written by: Bree Normandin
Medically reviewed : George Krucik, MD
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