Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any organ of the body. It is chronic because it can last longer, ranging from several weeks to years. It is autoimmune because the immune system attacks its own tissues instead of protecting them from bacteria, viruses, and germs.
Lupus can affect the skin only. This type is called discoid lupus. If the internal organs are affected, this type is called systemic lupus erythematosus.
Lupus can affect people in different age, although most common is between 18 and 45.
Symptoms of lupus differ from person to person. Some may not experience any symptoms for long periods. Symptoms may vary from mild to severe, and they are different and can be a combination of a few symptoms in the same person. The two major symptoms are joint and muscle pains and extreme fatigue and weakness. The other possible symptoms are:
- rash over cheeks, or from the sunlight
- night sweats
- oral/nasal ulcers
- weight gain or loss
- kidney problems
- swollen glands
- tissue inflammation
- abdominal pain
The risk factors of lupus include:
- gender (more common in women)
- race (more common in African, Hispanics, and Asians)
The cause of lupus is not exactly known. Since it is an autoimmune disease, it is suggested that there is a combination of several genetic and environmental factors that cause this disease. There may be other causes:
- medications against seizures, blood pressure and antibiotics.
Complications from lupus arise mostly from systemic lupus erythematosus, because it affects the internal organs. These can be:
- kidney problems – inflammation of the kidneys causing socalled lupus nephritis, which can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, dialysis, and kidney transplant in rare cases
- cardiovascular disease, like atherosclerosis, angina, coronary heart disease
- brain and central nervous system
- pregnancy – miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, pre-eclampsia
- infections, due to weakened immune system
- bone tissue necrosis, where hip joints are mostly affected