What Is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, a disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues. As a result, various parts of the body—such as the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, and lungs—can become inflamed and damaged. There are many different kinds of lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the form of the disease that is commonly referred to as lupus.
People with lupus can have a wide range of symptoms. Some of the most commonly reported symptoms are fatigue, painful or swollen joints, fever, skin rashes, and kidney problems. Typically, these symptoms come and go. When symptoms are present in a person with the disease, it is known as a flare. When symptoms are not present, the disease is said to be in remission.
We know that many more women than men have lupus. Lupus is two to three times more common in African American women than in Caucasian women and is also more common in women of Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent. African American and Hispanic women are also more likely to have active disease and serious organ system involvement. In addition, lupus can run in families, but the risk that a child or a brother or sister of a patient will also have lupus is still quite low. It is difficult to estimate how many people in the United States have the disease, because its symptoms vary widely and its onset is often hard to pinpoint. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease.
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