Lupus is a disease that occurs when your body's immune system attacks your own tissues and organs (autoimmune disease). Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is the most common type of lupus. SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues, causing widespread inflammation and tissue damage in the affected organs. It can affect the joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels.
Painful, swollen joints. An increase in fatigue. Rashes. Sores or ulcers in the mouth or nose.
It's important for family and friends to understand lupus so they know how they can help. But since lupus has so many different symptoms that come and go — which may range from manageable to life-threatening — it can be hard to describe. Explain that lupus is unpredictable. Symptoms can appear, disappear, and change.
Make It Easy for Others to Understand
Start by explaining that “lupus is a disease where the immune system makes a mistake,” says Dr. Petri. “Instead of fighting infection the way it should, the immune system starts to attack normal tissues in the body.”
Lupus is a lifelong disease that can affect many parts of your life. But, many women with lupus live long, healthy lives. You can take steps to control your symptoms, prevent lupus flares, and cope with the challenges of lupus.
You may experience pain and stiffness, with or without swelling. This affects most people with lupus. Common areas for muscle pain and swelling include the neck, thighs, shoulders, and upper arms. Fever.
Jobs that require outdoor work or prolonged exposure to sunlight, such as farming, landscaping, or lifeguarding, may not be ideal for people with lupus. Jobs with exposure to chemicals: Some people with lupus may have sensitivities to certain chemicals or toxins, which can exacerbate their symptoms or trigger flares.
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease with a wide range of clinical presentations resulting from its effect on multiple organ systems. There are four main types of lupus: neonatal, discoid, drug-induced, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the type that affects the majority of patients.
Kidneys About one half of people with lupus experience kidney involvement, and the kidney has become the most extensively studied organ affected by lupus.
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms vary so widely. People with mild lupus may have just a few symptoms, such as skin rashes or achy joints. In other cases, lupus can harm essential organs, including the kidneys and brain. “Diagnosis is one of the biggest challenges patients can face,” says Gourley.
Having lupus can make everyday life challenging. When your lupus is active, symptoms like joint stiffness, pain, fatigue, confusion, or depression can make simple tasks difficult — and sometimes impossible. Since these symptoms aren't visible, the people around you may have trouble understanding how you feel.
Stress, joint pain, and fatigue are common lupus symptoms. While rest is essential, moving your body regularly releases “feel good” hormones called endorphins. This can boost your mood and keep your stressors in check. Physical exercise can also lessen joint pain and prevent stiffness in the body.
Inflammation: Any time your body is experiencing excess inflammation, such as during a lupus flare, you will feel more tired. Anemia: Anemia occurs when your red blood cell count gets low. This means that the amount of oxygen going to your organs will decrease, which can increase your level of fatigue.
Many people with lupus sometimes have confusion, memory loss, and trouble expressing thoughts. The medical term is cognitive dysfunction. These symptoms can come and go. Lupus brain fog can be frustrating, but you can learn to live with your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
People with lupus may experience unpredictable changes in moods and personality traits. This can include feelings of anger and irritability. These may be related to the disease process or, in some cases, the use of corticosteroid medications.
The cause of lupus is unknown, and researchers are still trying to learn what may trigger or lead to the disease. Doctors know that it is a complex autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the person's tissues and organs.
Gender: Even though anyone can get lupus, it most often affects women. They're nine to ten times more likely than men to develop it. Age: Lupus can occur at any age, but most are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s. Race: Lupus is two to three times more common in African-American women than in Caucasian women.
It's likely that lupus results from a combination of your genetics and your environment. It appears that people with an inherited predisposition for lupus may develop the disease when they come into contact with something in the environment that can trigger lupus. The cause of lupus in most cases, however, is unknown.
With close follow-up and treatment, 80-90% of people with lupus can expect to live a normal life span. It is true that medical science has not yet developed a method for curing lupus, and some people do die from the disease. However, for the majority of people living with the disease today, it will not be fatal.
With age, symptom activity with lupus often declines, but symptoms you already have may grow more severe. The accumulation of damage over years may result in the need for joint replacements or other treatments.
The pain often moves from joint to joint. Joint pain, swelling and stiffness can be the main symptoms for some people with lupus. In most cases, lupus is unlikely to cause permanent damage or change the shape of joints. But it can sometimes cause serious joint problems.
For some people, living with and managing lupus can cause weight gain. Weight gain may also lead to worsening lupus symptoms and complications associated with obesity. Some potential causes of weight gain that relate to lupus may include: being a side effect of medications such as corticosteroids.