What is Lupus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), also known as ‘lupus’, is an autoimmune disease— meaning that the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. Common symptoms of the condition include fatigue, joint pain, and a butterfly-shaped rash on the face.

Types of Lupus

There are multiple forms of lupus, including:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – This is the most common form of lupus, and its symptoms can affect many different parts of the body, including the joints, skin, lungs, heart, and kidneys.
  • Neonatal lupus – This is a rare but serious form of lupus, which affects newborn babies. It is caused by an autoantibody, which the mother produces, that is passed onto the baby.
  • Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) – This form of lupus affects the skin, including the areas exposed to the sun (such as the face, neck, and arms), and can cause rashes, lesions, and ulcers.
  • Drug-induced lupus – This form of lupus is linked to certain medications, and can cause symptoms similar to those of SLE.

Diagnosing Lupus

There is no single test that can be used to diagnose lupus. A combination of tests and medical history information will be used to make a diagnosis. Tests may include blood tests, urine tests, and imaging studies, such as X-rays or ultrasounds. A doctor may also ask about the patient’s medical history and check for any physical symptoms.

Treatment Options

Treatment for lupus varies depending on the severity and type of symptoms. Common treatment options include medications, such as antimalarials, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and biologic drugs. In some cases lifestyle changes, such as stress management and increased physical activity, can also help.