Also referred to as “systemic lupus erythematosus,” this autoimmune disorder attacks healthy organs and tissues, including the joints, skin, blood cells, lungs, heart, kidneys and brain. Ninety percent of people with lupus are female, and the disease typically starts between the ages of 15 and 40.
The causes of lupus aren’t known, but the prevailing theory is that it involves a combination of factors. These may include a genetic predisposition and exposure to environmental triggers, such as a virus, an infection or UV light. No two cases of lupus are identical, but common symptoms include: joint stiffness, pain and swelling; fatigue; fever; a butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks; skin lesions; dry eyes; and cognitive problems such as confusion and memory loss. Many people with lupus are sensitive to sunlight.
Doctors treat lupus with medications, including immunosuppressants and corticosteroids. Exercise, a healthy diet and adequate rest also play a role in managing the disease. Learn more about this complex illness from Lupus Canada.