What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease. People with lupus have an overactive and misdirected immune system. Lupus is systemic, meaning that it affects a wide part of the body, including the joints, kidneys, skin, blood, brain and other organs.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) accounts for about 70 percent of all lupus cases. While SLE generally is considered the most serious form of lupus, cases range from very mild to severe. SLE affects various parts of the body and can cause joint pain, fatigue, hair loss, sensitivity to light, fever, rash and kidney problems.
Other types of lupus include:
- Cutaneous lupus erythematosus. It affects the skin.
- Drug-induced lupus. This is caused by the use of certain medications. Symptoms go away once the medicine is discontinued.
- Neonatal lupus. This type affects babies of women who have lupus. It typically disappears after about 6 months.
It is estimated that more than 1.5 million Americans have lupus. African American women are three times more likely than white women to have it. Hispanic, Asian and Native American women also have a higher incidence of lupus. People of all ages, races and sexes can get lupus, but 9 out of 10 adults with the disease are women between the ages of 15 and 45.