Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any body part. The body's immune system attacks healthy tissue, causing inflammation and tissue damage. This disease can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. There is no cure, but treatments can help manage the symptoms and reduce flares. With proper treatment, most people can live a full and active life.
Autoimmune diseases occur when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and damages healthy tissue. In the case of lupus, the immune system produces antibodies that attack healthy tissues in different parts of the body. Scientists believe that genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors may be involved.
There is no single known cause of this. However, several risk factors may increase the chance of developing the disease, including:
- Family history: Having a close relative with the disease increases a person's risk of developing it.
- Gender: It is more common in women than men, with women of childbearing age being most at risk.
- Ethnicity: Lupus is more common in certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
- Environmental factors: Exposure to specific environmental triggers, such as sunlight, ultraviolet light, and certain drugs, may increase the risk of developing the disease.
- Hormonal factors: Changes in hormone levels, such as during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, may play a role in developing it.
Lupus is a complex disease, and it is not known why some people develop it while others do not. However, these risk factors may increase the chance of developing the disease. If an individual has any of these risk factors, it does not mean that they will get it. Many people with the condition do not have any known risk factors. Likewise, having no known risk factor does not mean that they will never develop it.
This disease can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some people with lupus have only a few symptoms, while others have many. The symptoms can also vary in severity. They may be mild, moderate, or severe. Some people experience flares, periods when the disease is active, and painful symptoms. Outbursts may be followed by periods of remission when the condition is less active and symptoms are mild.
There is no cure, but lupus treatment can help manage the symptoms and prevent flares. The most common treatments for lupus are anti-inflammatory medications, such as corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Other common treatments include immunosuppressive medications, such as methotrexate and cyclophosphamide.