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 is much more common in 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 45, although younger children 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, certain drugs, infections such as viruses, and/or to hormones. Lupus may co-exist with other autoimmune disorders, such as Sjögren syndrome, hemolytic anemia, thyroiditis, and idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP).