Frequently Asked Questions about Lupus

Although lupus flare-ups usually manifest with fever, joint pain, and tiredness, the best-known symptom is a butterfly-shaped rash that appears on the face.
Frequently Asked Questions about Lupus

Last update: 18 September, 2021

Lupus is a complex and chronic autoimmune disease. It makes the immune system attack the body’s own tissues and can affect different parts, such as the skin, joints, and kidneys, among others. Read on to discover the answers to the most frequently asked questions about lupus.

Experts first described this condition in the Middle Ages. The word lupus is believed to come from “wolf” in Latin. It was so named because one of the possible manifestations of this disease is a butterfly-shaped erythema on the face, which resembles the scratched face of a wolf.

Lupus is one of the most common rheumatic diseases. In fact, its incidence is increasing. Experts estimate that almost 5 million people worldwide suffer from it. Below, we answer the most frequently asked questions about lupus.

What’s lupus?

As we mentioned above, lupus is an autoimmune disease. It makes the immune system produce antibodies that attack its own tissues because it recognizes them as foreign.

This reaction causes an ongoing or chronic inflammation that damages tissues and organs. This is why experts also consider lupus a chronic inflammatory disease. However, in reality, it manifests in the form of flare-ups and symptom-free periods.

The word lupus on a sheet of paper.

There are different types of lupus:

  • Cutaneous. This only affects the skin.
  • Neonatal lupus. A mother with lupus can pass the antibodies on to her baby, meaning that they’ll develop the disease.
  • Triggered by medications.

What causes Lupus? Is it contagious?

Despite all the research, experts still don’t know the exact cause of this disease. However, they do know that it isn’t contagious or cancerous, as some people believe. But people who have a certain genetic predisposition can develop it due to external factors.

For example, it’s known that some factors can trigger a flare-up. Sun exposure, certain infections, and some medications are some of the most common ones.

Frequently asked questions about lupus: what are the most common symptoms of this disease?

Lupus is a clinically heterogeneous disease and its symptoms vary from person to person. In addition, it can affect practically any organ and manifests in flare-ups, which is why it’s difficult to describe.

The most common symptoms of a flare-up are fever, weight loss, fatigue, and joint pain. In fact, 95% of people with lupus report suffering symmetrical joint or muscle pain in small joints, such as the fingers.

In the case of cutaneous or skin lupus, the most common manifestation is a butterfly-shaped rash on the face. However, they can appear on different parts of the body. Sun exposure typically worsens them.

A woman who suffers from lupus.
One of the characteristic symptoms of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash on the face.

Here are the other related symptoms:

  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches and impaired memory and orientation
  • Shortness of breath

This article may interest you: Diet and Lupus: What to Eat and What to Avoid

Is there a cure or treatment?

The truth is that there’s no cure for this disease. However, experts have developed many treatments to prevent or reduce the damage caused by the disease and its symptoms.

For example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and biological medicinal products are used. However, treatment must be individualized, depending on the type of lupus and the patient’s situation.

What you must remember is that it’s a very complex heterogeneous disease. Therefore, it’s very important for you to consult a specialist if you have any questions and go see your doctor if you have any symptoms.

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Lupus is a chronic disease where your immune system attacks your healthy cells. It can affect multiple organs in different ways.