Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, and blood cells. In lupus, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, causing inflammation and damage.
The exact cause of lupus is not known, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors is thought to play a role. Women are more likely to develop lupus than men, and the disease is more common in people of African, Asian, and Native American descent.
Symptoms of lupus can vary greatly from person to person and may include:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Skin rashes, especially a butterfly-shaped rash on the face
- Sun sensitivity
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Hair loss
Diagnosis of lupus is often challenging because its symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions. A doctor may use various tests, including blood tests, a biopsy, and imaging tests, to diagnose lupus.
There is currently no cure for lupus, but treatments can help control the symptoms and prevent damage to the organs. Treatment options may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, immunosuppressant drugs, and antimalarial drugs. It is important to work closely with a doctor to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.