Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in various parts of the body. Our immune systems normally attack foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, but in an autoimmune disease the immune system does not recognize healthy cells and tissues and attacks it. This causes the tissue to develop inflammation and become red, painful, and swollen. Because Lupus has no cure, it requires lifelong management.
There are four main types of Lupus. Cutaneous, otherwise known as discoid Lupus, is limited to the skin. Drug-induced Lupus is caused by certain medications. Neonatal Lupus, is Lupus in infants whose mothers have Lupus. The one that I will be focusing on, and the one that I have is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It is the most common one, and affects mostly women of childbearing age, although it can also affect men. Ethnic groups such as African American, Asian, Hispanic, an Native Americans are more frequently affected than Caucasians.
Lupus can affect any part of the body- most commonly joints, skin and kidneys. People with Lupus also have a higher likelihood of having other autoimmune conditions such as Sjogrens disease or celiac disease. Lupus can be a dangerous disease and can lead to organ damage if not treated. Treatment is usually geared towards decreasing inflammation and suppressing and modulating the immune system.
There is so much to learn about Lupus, and they way it affects us. In my next few posts I will discuss symptoms of lupus, how it is diagnosed, and some of the most common complications. By educating ourselves, we are able to educate others and raise awareness about this curious disease.