Lupus is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder that may affect the skin, joints, blood cells, and internal organs, especially the kidneys, heart, and lungs. In lupus, the immune system creates autoantibodies, which sometimes attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies contribute to inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
Two of the more common types of lupus are systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and drug-induced lupus. SLE can affect anyone at any time but is more common in women than men and is most frequently seen in people who are in their early twenties to mid forties. More than 90 percent of people with lupus are women between the ages of 15 and 45. About 15% - 20% of all SLE cases are diagnosed in children. There is an increased incidence of lupus in persons of African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American descent. The cause of lupus is not fully understood. It is thought to involve both an inherited component and a trigger that may be related to environmental factors and/or to hormones.
Kidney disease is a frequent occurrence in those with systemic lupus. Lupus causes glomerulonephritis, a condition that affects the kidney's ability to filter toxins, leading to kidney failure. Damage to other organs and tissues, such as the heart and central nervous system, can lead to complications including seizures or headaches and blood clots leading to strokes, and pulmonary embolisms.
Symptoms of SLE may come and go over time and vary from person to person. They may worsen abruptly and then die down. Flare-ups may be triggered by changes in someone's health status, such as physical or emotional stressors, and/or by outside stimulants such as exposure to sunlight.
Drug-induced SLE may occur with the use of certain drugs. These symptoms will generally resolve upon discontinuation of the drug. This type of SLE is usually less severe and has fewer associated complications such as kidney or central nervous system involvement.
The medications most commonly used to control lupus include: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aleve, Advil and Motrin or Prednisone and or other types of corticosteroids and immune suppressants.