For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

Lupus (SLE)

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What is lupus?

There are two main forms of lupus:
  • discoid lupus, which only affects your skin
  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which affects your skin and joints, and can also involve your internal organs including your heart or kidney.

This section only deals with the systemic type of lupus.

Lupus occurs when your immune system attacks your body’s own tissues. It can cause inflammation in many different parts of your body, though most people will only have a few of the possible symptoms.

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What are the symptoms of lupus?

Symptoms of lupus can include:
  • joint pain
  • a skin rash
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • headaches
  • mouth ulcers
  • hair loss
  • swelling of lymph glands
  • your fingers or toes changing colour in cold conditions

Lupus can have more serious complications if the inflammation affects your internal organs such as your heart, brain or kidneys, so you’ll need regular check-ups with your doctor for early signs of these complications.

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Who gets lupus?

Lupus is more common in young women of Chinese, African or Caribbean origin. Read more >

What causes lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, but we don’t yet know why it develops. Read more >

What is the outlook for lupus?

It’s hard to predict exactly how lupus will affect you, but your doctor will suggest treatments and/or lifestyle changes aimed at reducing the risks of complications. Read more >

How is lupus diagnosed?

Lupus can mimic other, more common conditions, so you’ll probably have a number of tests before the diagnosis is confirmed. Read more >

What treatments are there for lupus?

Treatment is with a combination of drugs and self-help measures, which will vary depending on your particular symptoms.

Drugs may include:

  • anti-inflammatory drugs
  • steroid tablets, creams or injections
  • drugs which suppress your immune system
  • drugs to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Read more >

Self-help and daily living for lupus

If you have lupus, you can help yourself by:
  • not smoking
  • protecting your skin from strong sunlight
  • dressing to keep your hands and feet warm in cold weather
  • resting when the condition is most active but otherwise taking regular exercise
  • pacing yourself and planning your activities
Read more >

Pregnancy and lupus

You should be able to have a baby if you want to, but it’s best to discuss your plans with your doctors before trying for a baby. Read more >

Research and new developments for lupus

New therapeutic approaches that target cells and molecules believed to be part of the cause of lupus are now being used. Read more >

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