What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune illness where the body's own immune system attacks itself. Symptoms of lupus can include fever without any signs of infection, muscle and joint aches, swollen joints, itchy skin and hives, a butterfly red rash on the face, increased skin sensitivity to the sun, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, weight loss and hair loss.
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune condition in which the immune system produces antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. Lupus in Latin means “the wolf,” which is a violent, unpredictable animal. Lupus causes many symptoms and affects people differently. People with lupus frequently have joint pain, rash, hair loss, painless mouth ulcers, pleurisy, anemia, and low blood count or increased bleeding risk. Lupus can also affect the kidneys or central nervous system.
Lupus is a short name for the disease, lupus erythematosus. Lupus is called an autoimmune disease because the immune system, which usually protects the body from disease, turns against the body, causing harm to organs and tissues.

There are two types of lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus can harm your skin, joints, kidneys and brain and may be fatal. The other type, called discoid lupus erythematosus, affects only your skin.

Different people get different symptoms. These may include skin rashes, joint pain, hair loss, sun sensitivity, tiredness, weight loss, fever, swelling of lymph glands, chest pain and nerve involvement.

To diagnose the disease, your doctor will do a physical examination, get your medical history and do special tests such as x-rays and a blood test for antinuclear antibody (ANA).

Most people with lupus may need to take drugs for many years, but do well long-term. No matter how severe symptoms are or are not, people with lupus should have periodic checkups.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.