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Lupus

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Also known as: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; SLE; Disseminated Lupus Erythematosus; Lupus Erythematosus; LE; Discoid Lupus; Subacute Cutaneous Lupus; Drug-induced Lupus; Neonatal Lupus

What is lupus?

Lupus is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder. It is a condition in which the immune system, which normally protects the body from infections, produces an inappropriate immune response against its own tissues. Lupus may affect the skin, joints, blood vessels, and internal organs, especially the kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain. There are several types of lupus; the most common is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which affects many areas of the body.

Anyone can get lupus at any time, but it most commonly affects women of childbearing age. It is diagnosed in 10 times more women than men and is more common in persons of African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American descent. SLE is most frequently seen in people between the ages of 15 and 44, although children, including newborns, and older adults can also have lupus.

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, such as exposure to sunlight, and/or the use of certain medications and viral infections. Lupus may co-exist with other autoimmune disorders, such as Sjögren syndrome, some cases of hemolytic anemia, Hashimoto thyroiditis, and idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP; see Bleeding Disorders - Platelet disorders).

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