Lupus is a condition that comes under the heading of Arthritis – it too is an inflammatory condition that are acute and chronic – an auto-immune disease.
Our immune system is a complex system – designed to protect us – to fight off any invading bacteria, virus etc. The immune system protects us by producing antibodies that bind to the enemy and destroy it. However the immune system can go haywire, get confused and starts attacking your own tissue! Why is not totally clear.
Lupus can affect various part of the body, depending on the individual. Sometimes lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and/or nervous system. When only the skin is involved, the condition is called lupus dermatitis or cutaneous lupus erythematosus. This form of lupus only affects skin, without internal disease, is called discoid lupus. When internal organs are affected the condition is referred to as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Interestingly, lupus affects women much more often than men, and generally between the ages of 20 to 45.
Genetic factors increase the tendency of developing an autoimmune disease such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and auto-immune thyroid problems, seem to be more common among relatives of patients with lupus than the general population. Other researchers believe that the immune system of some people are easily stimulated by external factors like viruses for instance.
It is well known that some women with SLE can experience their lupus symptoms getting worse prior to their menstrual cycle. As more women suffer than men it is thought that female hormones play an important role in this disease.
People with systemic lupus have an increased risk of developing cancer – breast cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma. There seems to be an increased risk of heart disease too.