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What causes lupus?

The cause of lupus is not known. You can not get lupus from someone else.   It is likely many factors play a role in a person getting lupus. Researchers are looking for links to factors such as genes, environment, hormones and problems with your immune system. Normally your immune system or disease-fighting cells work to protect you from disease. When you have lupus, your immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues, causing inflammation, pain and damage in parts of the body .

What are the types of lupus?

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
    • most common type
    • may affect joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, blood vessels, nervous system, blood and brain
    • flares and remissions may occur
  • Discoid lupus erthyematosus (DLE)
    • causes a skin rash that doesn't go away
  • Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus
    • causes skin sores on parts of the body exposed to sun

What are the risk factors?

Anyone can get lupus but common risk factors include:

  • Age: most common in childbearing age between 15 and 45 years of age but can develop in childhood or later in life.
  • Female: risk is much higher in women since 9 out of 10 persons with lupus are women.
  • Race: African-American women are three times more likely to get lupus than Caucasian women.  Latino, Asian, and Native American women are at higher risk.

What are the warning signs of lupus?

Common signs include:

  • Painful or swollen joints:
  • Muscle pain;
  • Fever with no known cause;
  • Skin rashes, often butterfly-shaped rash across nose and cheeks;
  • Chest pain when taking a deep breath;
  • Hair loss;
  • Pale or purple fingers or toes;
  • Sensitivity to the sun or light;
  • Anemia (decrease in red blood cells);
  • Mouth ulcers;
  • Swollen glands;
  • Feeling very tired; and
  • Kidney problems with no known cause.

How is lupus diagnosed?

Lupus is often mistaken for other diseases.

  • May take a long time to diagnose;
  • Develops slowly in most people;
  • Have symptoms that come and go;
  • Have signs that differ from one person to another; and
  • May only affect a few parts of the body.

How is lupus treated?

Your doctor will decide how to best manage and treat your symptoms

  • Early detection, treatment, and patient education help to control lupus.
  • Be sure to tell your health care provider right away about any new symptoms.
  • You may need to see special kinds of doctors to help treat the many symptoms of lupus.
  • Your treatment may include using medicines.

How can I keep lupus under control?

  • Learn how to tell if a flare is coming and contact your health care provider right away. Warning signs of a flare may include:
    • Feeling more tired;
    • Pain;
    • Stomach Ache;
    • Rash;
    • Severe headache; and
    • Fever.
  • See your health care provider regularly and go over your treatment plan to make sure it is working for you.
  • Maintain a life balance by setting realistic goals and priorities.
  • Limit the time you spend in the sun and in fluorescent and halogen light.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Get enough sleep and rest.
  • Include a moderate amount of physical activity when possible
  • Develop a support system made up of people you trust and can go to for help.