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Diseases » Lupus » Introduction


Lupus: Introduction

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: 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 »

Lupus: Symptoms

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 »

Lupus: Treatments

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 »

Lupus: Misdiagnosis

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

Treatments for Lupus

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Lupus:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Lupus?

Lupus: Animations

Lupus: Related Patient Stories

Lupus: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Lupus.

Alternative Treatments for Lupus

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Lupus may include:

Types of Lupus

Curable Types of Lupus

Possibly curable types of Lupus include:

  • SLE of the joints
  • Retinal vasculitis related to SLE
  • Psychosis related to SLE
  • Deep vein thrombosis related to SLE
  • Acute ischemia related to SLE
  • more types...»

Rare Types of Lupus:

Rare types of Lupus include:

Diagnostic Tests for Lupus

Test for Lupus in your own home

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Lupus: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Lupus:

Causes of Lupus

  • There are 38 known medications to cause DIL but there are three that report the highest number of cases: hydralazine, procainamide, and isoniazid
  • more causes...»

More information about causes of Lupus:

Disease Topics Related To Lupus

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Lupus:

Lupus: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Lupus

Lupus is often misdiagnosed as other conditions: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), often simply called "lupus", is a difficult disease to diagnose more »

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Psoriasis often undiagnosed cause of skin symptoms in children: Children who suffer from the skin disorder called psoriasis can often more »

Lupus: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Lupus

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Lupus:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Lupus, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Lupus: Rare Types

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).

Research about Lupus

Visit our research pages for current research about Lupus treatments.

Clinical Trials for Lupus

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Lupus include:

Statistics for Lupus

Lupus: Broader Related Topics

Lupus Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

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 life-threatening. (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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