Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood and kidneys. The immune system normally protects the body against viruses, bacteria and other foreign materials. In an autoimmune disease like lupus, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues. The immune system then makes antibodies directed against 'self'.
Lupus is NOT infectious, rare or contagious.
LFA market research data shows that between 1,400,000 and 2,000,000 people have been diagnosed with lupus. (Study conducted by Bruskin/Goidring Research, 1994.) Lupus is more prevalent than AIDS, sickle cell anemia, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis combined.
Although the cause of lupus is unknown, scientists suspect that individuals are genetically predisposed to lupus, and know that environmental factors such as infections, antibiotics, ultraviolet light, extreme stress and certain drugs play a critical role in triggering lupus.
Lupus affects l out of every 185 Americans. Although lupus can occur at any age, and in either sex, 90% of people with lupus are women and during the child bearing years lupus strikes women 10-15 times more frequently than men. Lupus is more prevalent in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asians.
Only 10% of people with lupus will have a close relative (parent or sibling) who already has or may develop lupus. Only about 5% of the children born to individuals with lupus will develop the illness.
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms come and go and mimic many other illnesses. Some symptoms of lupus can be transient joint and muscle pain, fatigue, a rash caused by or made worse by sunlight, low grade fevers, hair loss, pleurisy appetite loss, sores in the nose or mouth or painful sensitivity of the fingers to the cold
Sunlight, infection, injury, surgery, stress or exhaustion can trigger "flare-ups" of lupus (a more active state of the disease).
Although lupus ranges from mild to life-threatening and thousands of Americans die with lupus each year; the majority of cases can be controlled with proper treatment.
Increased professional awareness and improved diagnostic techniques and evaluation methods are contributing to the early diagnosis and treatment of lupus. With current methods of therapy 80-90% of people with lupus can look forward to a normal lifespan.
While medical science has not yet developed a method for curing lupus, new research brings unexpected findings and increased hope each year.