What is Lupus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus, more widely known as lupus (or SLE) is an autoimmune connective tissue disease whose symptoms can flare up and then go into remission unpredictably.

Due to its many different types of symptoms, lupus is a ‘classic’ differential diagnosis, meaning it is often a potential diagnosis for people ultimately found to be suffering from another disease. However, due to the potential for severe, long-term damaging effects to the body’s many organs and systems, it is very important that it is identified and treated early in its course.

As with other autoimmune conditions, with lupus the body’s immune system attacks the body at the cellular level, causing inflammation and subsequent tissue damage. Lupus affects women with far greater frequency than men (90% women), especially those between the ages of 15 and 35.

  • Lupus is systemic, meaning it affects many of the body’s systems, including skin, joints, heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, blood vessels and the central nervous system. 
  • Lupus is chronic, meaning it is persistent and long-lasting, although relapse or remission in the disease are not uncommon, and can be managed well by most sufferers though consistent drug therapy and lifestyle modifications.

There is no known cure for lupus, but pain and destructive effects on the body’s systems can be mitigated with drug therapy, and over the past few decades the average lifespan of most lupus sufferers has come to match that of the general population.

Learn more about lupus in this section - scroll down or click a topic at left.