What is Lupus
Lupus is a long-term autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. This leads to long-term (chronic) inflammation. The most common forms of Lupus are Discoid Lupus, Drug Induced Lupus, Neonatal Lupus and Systemic Lupus Erythematous (aka Lupus, LE or SLE).
Systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) is the most serious form of lupus. It can affect any part of the body, in particular the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain. When people talk about lupus, they are most often talking about SLE, and we follow this practice. Unless specified, we are referring to SLE when we use the term lupus.
Lupus can affect men and women of any age. It can sometimes be seen in infants and in people over sixty but the majority of cases are found in young people, in particular, young women. Nine out of ten sufferers are female with the highest incidence occurring between the ages of fifteen and forty five. Lupus can manifest itself with a multitude of symptoms which can be very vague and confusing early on.
For most people, the condition is mild, affecting only the skin and joints but for others it can be severe and can involve the kidneys, heart, lungs and brain. Importantly, even mild lupus can have a serious impact on the daily life of the person who is affected.
The underlying cause of Lupus is not fully known, but there are some factors known to trigger an attack such as a virus, some drugs and chemicals, stress or a traumatic experience and environmental triggers such as the sun.
The life expectancy of a person living with Lupus has come a long way than that of 30+ years ago. Through improved diagnostic techniques and treatments a majority of people diagnosed with Lupus can now expect to live a normal life span.
There is currently no cure for Lupus.