Lupus Basics

Information about lupus for those living with the disease, caring for someone living with lupus, or wondering if they may have lupus.

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What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause pain and inflammation in the body. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy cells, tissues, and organs. These attacks cause inflammation that leads to tissue damage, which may be permanent in some cases.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of lupus differ from person to person and may include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Prolonged or extreme fatigue
  • Rash
  • Chest pain
  • Hair loss
  • Sun or light sensitivity
  • Fever
  • Mouth sores
  • Anemia
  • Memory problems
  • Blood clotting
  • Eye disease
  • Kidney problems (lupus nephritis)

Symptoms sometimes are worse (flares) and other times are better (remissions). Over time, new symptoms can develop while others fade.

Who is affected?

About 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with lupus are women aged 15 to 44, but men are affected as well.

Your risk for lupus is greater if you are a member of a racial/ethnic minority or other diverse group.

  • African American women are three times more likely to get lupus than non-Hispanic white women.
  • African American and Hispanic/Latina women usually get lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms, including kidney problems, than women of other groups.
  • African American, Chinese, and Hispanic/Latino people living with lupus are more likely to have serious organ system involvement than non-Hispanic white people living with lupus.
How is lupus treated?

There is no cure for lupus, but medical treatments and lifestyle changes can help keep symptoms under control. Most lupus medications work to prevent flares, treat symptoms, and reduce organ damage and other problems. There are limited FDA-approved medications that treat the disease itself.

Where can I learn more?

Lupus
Food and Drug Administration
Office of Minority Health and Health Equity

Lupus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus)
National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Understanding Lupus Exit Disclaimer
Lupus Foundation of America

What is Lupus? Exit Disclaimer
Lupus Research Alliance
There are limited FDA-approved medications that treat the disease itself.