Lupus is an ongoing or chronic disease that can have a widespread effect on the body, including the skin, joints, muscles and other organs. Lupus, also called systemic lupus erythematosus, can be a mild disease or the progression of it can result in serious, even fatal complications to vital organs.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. In an autoimmune disease, the body's immune system mistakes healthy tissues and organs as foreign and potentially dangerous invaders into the body and attacks them. This results in inflammation that eventually can damage and destroy the affected tissues and organs.
There are three types of lupus. These include systemic lupus, which results in inflammation in multiple organs and body systems. Discord lupus erythematosus only affects the skin. Drug-induced lupus occurs as a side effect of some drugs, such as beta blockers, which are commonly used to treated heart disease and hypertension.
The onset of lupus often occurs in young adulthood through middle age and affects about ten times as many women as men. People at a higher risk of developing lupus include people of Hispanic or Black descent and those who have a child, sibling or parent with the disease. People who take beta blockers are also at risk.
The way that lupus affects people differs widely from person to person, but it generally occurs as periodic attacks of symptoms. These flare-ups are followed by a period of time in which symptoms improve. The symptoms of lupus can be mild, moderate, or severe. Complications of lupus can be serious, even life-threatening. For more details on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of lupus.
Making a diagnosis can be difficult because lupus mimics many other diseases, and there is no specific test to diagnose lupus. A diagnosis is based on the complete compilation and evaluation of the patient's history, symptoms, exam, and medical tests. A diagnosis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Medical tests are ordered to rule-out other diseases and can reveal indications of lupus and its complications, such as kidney damage, liver damage, problems with the clotting of blood, heart damage, and lung damage.
Testing may include a wide variety of blood tests, including a complete blood test (CBC), and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), which measures the level of inflammation in the body. Liver function is tested with blood liver function tests. Other blood tests include those that pinpoint specific autoantibodies, which are found in the body with lupus and other autoimmune diseases.
Various imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT, MRI, and nuclear scanning may also be performed to help assess potential damage to organs and body systems. In addition, an EKG may be done to help identify heart damage, and a urinalysis can help reveal kidney problems.
It is possible that a diagnosis of lupus can be missed or delayed because early symptoms can be mild or vague and associated with other conditions, such as aging, influenza, arthritis or stress. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of lupus.
Treatment for lupus varies depending on the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history and other factors. Lupus cannot be cured, and severe cases can be fatal. However, treatment can help the majority of people live a normal lifespan. Treatment can include a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, diet and avoiding exposure to the sun. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of lupus. ...more »
Lupus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women
and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body.
Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious
depending on which body organs are afflicted.
Lupus is difficult to diagnose and often misdiagnosed
unless there is a characteristic symptom such as
the butterfly-shaped rash over the cheeks.
There is no single definitive blood test for lupus
and doctors have to make the diagnosis based on a
variety of symptoms and diagnostic tests.
Lupus is one of a group of conditions with vague symptoms
such as fatigue or malaise,
and may need to be distinguished from
fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome,
Type 2 diabetes, depression, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis,
or various other conditions.
If the main symptoms are joint symptoms,
then various other causes of arthritis need to be considered. ...more »
The types and severity of symptoms of lupus varies between individuals. At the onset of the disease, the symptoms of lupus can be mild and vague.
Symptoms of lupus are the result of the inflammation of tissues damage done to the organs of the body. The classic butterfly-shaped rash on the face may not occur in all people with lupus. At any time during the progression lupus, symptoms may ...more symptoms »
There is no cure for lupus. However, it is a myth that lupus is commonly a fatal disease. With early recognition, regular medical care, and good patient compliance with a treatment plan, it is possible for most people with lupus to live a normal lifespan.
The most successful treatment plans employ a multipronged approach that includes medications, ...more treatments »
A diagnosis of lupus may be delayed or missed because some cases are mild and have minimal symptoms and long periods between flare-ups of symptoms. In addition, many symptoms of lupus, such as fever, painful, swollen joints, rashes from sun exposure, hair loss and mouth lesions, can be attributed to a wide variety of other conditions or diseases. These include ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Lupus
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symptoms of Lupus
Treatments for Lupus
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Home Diagnostic Testing
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Alternative Treatments for Lupus
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Types of Lupus
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Curable Types of Lupus
Possibly curable types of Lupus include:
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- Acute ischemia related to SLE
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Rare Types of Lupus:
Rare types of Lupus include:
Diagnostic Tests for Lupus
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diagnostic tests for Lupus
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Causes of Lupus
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Lupus: Undiagnosed Conditions
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Misdiagnosis and Lupus
Lupus is often misdiagnosed as other conditions: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), often simply called "lupus",
is a difficult disease to diagnose and...read more »
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Lupus: Research Doctors & Specialists
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Lupus: Rare Types
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Latest Treatments for Lupus
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latest treatments for Lupus
Prognosis for Lupus
Prognosis for Lupus:
Normal lifespan possible for many patients. Remissions and relapses common. 5-year survival about 97%; 10-year survival about 90%. (NWHIC).
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Research about Lupus
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Clinical Trials for Lupus
The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally
and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Lupus include:
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Clinical Trials for Lupus
Statistics for Lupus
Lupus: Broader Related Topics
Types of Lupus
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Article Excerpts about Lupus
NINDS Neurological Sequelae Of Lupus Information Page: NINDS (Excerpt)
Lupus (also called systemic lupus erythematosus
or SLE) is a disorder of the immune system which normally functions to
protect the body against invading infections and cancers. In lupus, the
immune system is over-active and produces increased amounts of abnormal
antibodies that attack the patient's own tissues. Lupus can affect many
parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart,
nervous system, and blood vessels. The signs and symptoms of lupus differ
from person to person, and the disease can range from mild to
(Source: excerpt from NINDS Neurological Sequelae Of Lupus Information Page: NINDS)
Handout on Health Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: NIAMS (Excerpt)
Lupus is a disorder of the immune system known as an
autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, the body harms its own
healthy cells and tissues. This leads to inflammation and damage to
various body tissues. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including
the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain.
(Source: excerpt from Handout on Health Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: NIAMS)
Connective Tissue Diseases: NWHIC (Excerpt)
An inflammation of the connective tissues,
SLE can afflict every organ system. It is up to nine times more
common in women than men and strikes black women three times as
often as white women. The condition is aggravated by sunlight.
(Source: excerpt from Connective Tissue Diseases: NWHIC)
Lupus Fact Sheet: NWHIC (Excerpt)
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body literally attacks itself,
harming its own healthy cells and tissues. It can affect the joints, skin,
kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain, causing inflammation and damage
to tissues. (Source: excerpt from Lupus Fact Sheet: NWHIC)
Definitions of Lupus:
RAEB: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). an autoimmune connective tissue disease with variable features.
- (Source - Diseases Database)
Any of several forms of ulcerative skin disease
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
Ophanet, a consortium of European partners,
currently defines a condition rare when it affects 1 person per 2,000.
They list Lupus as a "rare disease".
Source - Orphanet
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