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Lupus - What is it for

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems, including the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, lungs and intestines. 

Under normal circumstances, the body’s immune system protects the body against “foreign” invaders like viruses, bacteria and parasites. In lupus, the immune system malfunctions and produces antibodies and cells which attack its own organs – hence lupus is known as an “auto-immune” disease. The reason why this happens is not known but lupus flares are commonly triggered by a combination of factors such as exposure to sunlight, stress or infection. There is also a genetic link since lupus occasionally runs in families.

Lupus occurs more frequently in women than in men. Asians and Afro-Americans are more prone to develop lupus than Caucasians and the disorder is more severe in these ethnic groups.

Types of Lupus

There are 4 types of lupus, namely:

  1. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): the generalised and most common form
  2. Discoid Lupus Erythematosus: only affecting the skin
  3. Drug-induced Lupus: Lupus caused by drugs
  4. Neonatal Lupus: Lupus in babies born to mothers with SLE
The outlook for people with lupus was once grim, but diagnosis and treatment of the disorder has improved tremendously in recent years. With early diagnosis and treatment, most people with lupus can lead active lives.

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