Lupus is now recognised as an important illness of modern times. It is a disease in which the immune system goes 'wrong' and becomes overactive.
It can affect any organ of the body. Because the symptoms can be so diverse, including for example, fatigue, rashes, allergies, depression and kidney failure it is called the 'great mimic' and can often be misdiagnosed. Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor, generally a rheumatologist who will regularly access and manage disease activity.
There are two main types of lupus:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
- Cutaneous lupus including discoid lupus.
Lupus is not contagious, you cannot ‘catch it. Certain people are born with a tendency toward developing lupus, which may be triggered and become active. While there's no cure for lupus, treatments can help control symptoms.
All ages and sexes can be affected, but the most common are young females, especially those of African and Asian ancestry, the peak ages being between 18 and 45. It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have lupus.
The outlook for most patients, given the correct treatment, has improved beyond recognition.