What is lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints and causes inflammation in other systems as well.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue. It affects joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys and blood vessels, leading to inflammation and tissue damage of the affected organs.
What are the four types of lupus?
The four types of lupus are:
- Lupus dermatitis: Lupus affecting the skin in the form of a rash.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): This type of lupus affects the internal organs and is the most serious type.
- Drug-induced lupus: This type of lupus occurs as a result of an overreaction to certain medications such as Apresoline (hydralazine) or quinidine and Pronestyl (procainamide). It is similar to SLE.
- Neonatal lupus: Lupus affecting an infant as a result of passively acquiring antibodies from a mother with SLE.
How does a person get lupus?
The exact cause of SLE is unknown, however, risk factors that increase your chances of getting Lupus Genetic and hormonal factors
- Exposure to UV rays
- Microbial response
- Certain medications
- Silica dust
- Cigarette smoking
- Photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight)
Other risk factors
- Family history of SLE
- Female sex
- Chronic infections
- Use of estrogen in women undergoing menopause
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding have shown to decrease the risk of SLE.
- Women of childbearing ages (15-44 years)
- High-risk ethnic backgrounds such as African Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Caucasians.
Early-life risk factors
- Low birth weight (<2,500 g)
- Preterm birth (birth that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy)
- Exposure to pesticides during childhood
What is usually the first sign of lupus?
Fatigue, fever, joint pain and weight changes are usually the first signs of lupus. Some adults may have a period of SLE symptoms known as flares, which may occur frequently, sometimes even years apart and resolve at other times—called remission. Other symptoms include:
- Sun sensitivity
- Oral ulcers
- Blood cell and immunological abnormalities
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Facial rash (butterfly rash)
- Chest pain caused due to inflammation of the lining that surrounds the lung (pleuritis) and the heart (pericarditis)
- Raynaud’s phenomenon (poor circulation to the fingers and toes with cold exposure)
- Vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels)
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
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What are the complications of Lupus?
The complications that accompany SLE are as follows:
- Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing)
- Lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes)
- Lupoid hepatitis (liver disease)
- Fibromyalgia (muscle pain and tenderness)
- Pancreatitis (inflammation in pancreas)
- Coronary heart disease (damage or disease in the heart’s major artery)
- Blood clots
- Kidney failure
How is lupus treated?
There is no cure for SLE. Management of SLE depends on disease severity and disease manifestations.
Hydroxychloroquine is effective in the long-term treatment of SLE. Immunosuppressive medicines help to inhibit the activity of the immune system, which can also be useful in treating SLE.
Can a person die from lupus?
Lupus along with other medical conditions can be a contributing cause of death. Mainly, secondary conditions such as kidney diseases, heart diseases can be contributing factors.