Lupus Fact Sheet
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
- Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of
various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood and kidneys.
The immune system normally protects the body against viruses, bacteria and
other foreign material. In an autoimmune disease, like lupus, the immune
system loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances
and its own cells and tissues. The immune system then makes antibodies
directed against itself.
- Lupus is NOT infectious, rare, or cancerous.
- Although the cause of lupus is unknown, scientists suspect that
individuals are generally predisposed to lupus, and know that environmental
factors such as infections, antibiotics, ultraviolet light, extreme stress
and certain drugs play a critical role in triggering lupus.
- Lupus affects 1 out of every 185 Americans and strikes adult women 10-15
times more frequently than adult men. Lupus is more prevalent in African
Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asians.
- Only 10% of people with lupus will have a close relative (parent or
sibling) who already has or may develop lupus. Only about 5% of the children
born to individuals with lupus will develop the illness.
- Lupus can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms
come and go and mimic many other illnesses. Some symptoms of lupus can be
transient joint and muscle pain, fatigue, a rash caused by or made worse by sunlight, low grade
fevers, hair loss, pleurisy, appetite loss, sores in the nose or mouth or
painful sensitivity of the fingers to cold.
- Although lupus ranges from mild to life-threatening and thousands of
Americans die with lupus each year, the majority of cases can be controlled
with proper treatment.
- With current methods of therapy, most people with lupus can look forward
to a normal life span.
- While medical science has not yet developed a method for curing lupus, new
research brings unexpected findings and increased hope each year.
- The Lupus Foundation of America has nearly 100 local chapters directly
providing patient services, education, awareness and research in their local
For additional information, please read the Systemic
Lupus Erythematosus article.
Last Editorial Review: 12/29/2004
(Source: Lupus Foundation of America, http://www.lupus.org/)