Lupus—systemic lupus erythematosus (S.L.E.)—is a chronic and often disabling autoimmune disease.
It has been estimated that 1.5 million Americans, and millions more worldwide, have lupus.
Most are diagnosed as young women of childbearing age who suffer from such symptoms as intense fatigue and exhaustion, joint pains, thinking and memory problems, and skin rashes. Men, children, and older women get lupus too. Read more about who gets lupus
No two cases of lupus are alike
Symptoms, and the course of the disease, vary widely.
Some people with lupus develop kidney problems, for example, while others get premature heart disease, and others still suffer from strokes or develop lung inflammation.
Although it’s very unlikely that a person will experience all of the symptoms of lupus, it’s smart to know what to look for. Read about lupus symptoms
Diagnosis can be difficult
There is no single laboratory test that can determine if a person has lupus.
And because many symptoms of lupus are vague—generalized fatigue, joint pain, skin rash—that can come and go over periods of weeks and months, it sometimes takes years for a diagnosis to be made.
That’s unfortunate, because it’s best to treat many of the complications early on, before they cause lasting damage.
New Treatments Emerging, Search for the Cure is On
In 2011, the first major new treatment for lupus in more than 50 years was approved. However critical research continues to find treatments with fewer side effects that can prevent the autoimmune antibodies from attacking the immune system without damaging other tissues and organs. Find out more here.
What’s next for people with lupus
No one knows why lupus occurs, or how to prevent or cure it.
But researchers finally are making headway, and a surge in better diagnostic techniques and treatment methods has led to more effective management of the disease and its complications.
Just 20 years ago, only 40 percent of people with lupus were expected to live more than 3 years following a diagnosis. Now, with earlier diagnosis, the latest therapies, and careful monitoring, most people with lupus can look forward to a normal lifespan.
What to do if you have lupus
As with so many illnesses, knowledge is power with lupus.
Find out how lupus can affect you, so that you can fight lupus in body and mind.
Skills to cultivate include the ability to:
- Pace yourself, a quality that has to do with knowing your limits.
- Communicate your needs to those who care for you.
- Practice patience to ride out the trying times.
- Organize your medical records and visits to physicians.
- Prioritize your responsibilities in life (rest, exercise, work, family).
- Cultivate a sense of humor to help you through the rough spots.
If you have lupus, you are not alone
Find out how others have coped with lupus in these stories.