What is Lupus?

Learn more about Lupus and treatments for it.

Facts about Lupus:

  • Lupus occurs 10 times more often in women than in men.
  • Treatment depends on the symptoms and how serious they are.
  • Because it is a complex disease, lupus requires treatment by or consultation with a rheumatologist, a doctor who is an expert in treating lupus and other rheumatic diseases.
  • People can live well with lupus if they actively work toward good health.

What causes lupus?

The immune system is the body’s defense system. When healthy, it protects the body by making antibodies (blood proteins) that attack foreign germs and cancers. With lupus, the immune system misfires. Instead of producing protective antibodies, an autoimmune disease begins and makes “auto-antibodies,” which attack the patient’s own tissues.

How is lupus diagnosed?

Lupus can be hard to detect because it is a complex disease that has many symptoms, and they can come on slowly. As experts in diagnosing and treating autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatologists can best determine whether a patient has lupus and advise them about treatment options.

How is lupus treated?

There is no cure for lupus, and treating lupus can be a challenge. However, treatment for lupus has improved a great deal. Treatment depends on the type of symptoms you have and how serious they are. Patients with muscle or joint pain, fatigue, rashes and other problems that are not dangerous can receive “conservative” treatment.

Broader health impact of lupus

Even when it is not active, lupus may cause problems later. Some of these problems can be fatal. One of these problems is atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries) that may develop in younger women or may be more severe than usual. This problem raises the risk of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes. Thus, it is vital that patients with lupus lower their other risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It is also important to have as active a lifestyle as possible.