Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes swelling or inflammation in various areas of the body. Lupus is a very unique and individualistic illness that affects everyone differently. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans, and at least five million people worldwide, have some form of lupus. It is estimated that around 9 out of 10 adults with lupus are women aged 15-45. African-American women are 3X more likely to suffer from lupus than Caucasian women. Lupus is also more common in Latina, Asian, and Native American women. Men are at a higher risk before puberty and after the age of 50. Symptoms can be more severe for those who are not able to receive the proper care for their condition. Research has shown that people suffering with severe lupus symptoms often have a lower household income, a lower level of education, or do not have a good support system from friends or family. Sufferers of the illness may experience arthritis-like symptoms such as joint swelling and stiffness. Other symptoms of lupus may include shortness of breath, chest pains, confusion, memory loss, and severely dry eyes. 20% of lupus patients experience severe, migraine-like headaches. It has been estimated that as many as 30% of lupus patients may also have fibromyalgia. The direct cause of lupus is still unknown, however, researchers believe it could be anything from environment, genetics, hormones, and/or issues with the immune system. Since symptoms vary so much between lupus patients, doctors have categorized several different types of lupus and they are as follows:
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is accountable for 70% of all cases of lupus. SLE can be mild, moderate, or severe and can affect several areas of the body. Symptoms of SLE include: fatigue, skin sensitivity, hair loss, inflamed and swollen joints, fever, skin rashes, and even kidney problems. Your doctor will be able to diagnose you with lupus based off of these symptoms.
- Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE) is a type of lupus that primarily affects the skin but may also include hair loss and swelling of blood vessels. This type of lupus may also include lesions on the skin and can be diagnosed by a physician using a skin sample.
- Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) typically just affects the skin with signs of rashes or sores and can also affect the mouth, ears, and nose cavity in the same way.
- Subacute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (SCLE) accounts for 10% of lupus cases. It causes skin lesions on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun.