Lupus is a complex condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue (an autoimmune disease) causing inflammation. The most common symptoms are joint pain, skin rashes and tiredness. Lupus can also cause many other symptoms affecting your:
Lupus symptoms can come and go, with periods where it’s much worse called flare-ups. It can be difficult to live with, affecting your daily life. Severe lupus can damage the organs and tissues that are affected.
It’s six times more common in women than in men. It’s also more common in people of African, Caribbean, Asian or Chinese origin. Lupus typically develops between the ages of 20 and 49 and rarely affects children.
Although there’s no cure for lupus, symptoms can usually be managed through various medications, especially if started early on in the disease.
Symptoms of lupus can range from mild to severe. They vary from person to person, although the most common symptoms are:
Other common symptoms include:
Many lupus symptoms are non-specific, meaning they’re also associated with other diseases. This can make it difficult to make a quick diagnosis of lupus.
After discussing your medical history and symptoms, your doctor will usually refer you for a blood test to look for particular proteins associated with lupus.
If they suspect organs such as your heart or kidneys are affected, they may refer you for an X-ray or other scans.
Lupus is when your immune system attacks healthy cells throughout your body. The exact reason why this happens is unknown.
It isn’t contagious but it may be triggered by:
It can also run in families, suggesting a genetic link.
There’s no cure, but medications often help relieve symptoms, especially if started in the early stages of the disease. Medications often prescribed include:
If you have severe lupus, your doctor may prescribe rituximab or belimumab. These are newer medicines which reduce the activity of the immune system.
You can also help control lupus by:
You’ll need careful monitoring by your doctor to quickly recognise and treat potentially serious complications. Your medication may be changed from time to time as symptoms come and go.
British Society for Rheumatology https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/57/1/e1/4318863
British Society for Immunology https://www.immunology.org/public-information/bitesized-immunology/immune-dysfunction/systemic-lupus-erythematosus