Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects approximately 1.5 million Americans. An autoimmune disease is a disease in which the immune system thinks that healthy parts of the body, such as the skin, joints, bone marrow, as well as organs, are possible threats and thus starts attacking them. Other well-known autoimmune diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 90% of Lupus cases are women who developed this disease between the ages of 15 and 45. To make it worse, women of color are even more likely to get sick – 2x to 3x as much to be exact.
Types of Lupus
There are 4 types of Lupus. The most common type – almost 70% of the total Lupus cases – is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). So if someone tells you they have Lupus, they often mean systemic lupus erythematosus. Other types are:
- Cutaneous lupus erythematosus; a type that primarily targets the skin and sometimes the hair.
- Drug-induced lupus; a type caused by certain medications, once you’ve stopped taking them, the disease and its symptoms will disappear.
- Neonatal lupus; is a rare type that is found in newborns and is probably passed to them from their mothers.
Causes & Risk Factors of Lupus
Unfortunately, the cause of Lupus is still unknown. To this day, the medical world is doing a lot of research to discover why and how this autoimmune disease is triggered. Medical experts do know that there a possible factors that could cause Lupus. Risk factors include:
- Hormonal changes; high levels of estrogen
- Environmental changes; sunlight, medications, stress, viruses, smoking
- Family history; there is an increased chance of getting Lupus if a (immediate) family member has Lupus.
Even though 9 in 10 lupus cases are women, it does not mean that only women can develop this autoimmune disease. 1 in 10 cases is still male. In addition, you may also get lupus outside the mentioned age group. Ethnicities with a high lupus risk include African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American. Read on the next page what exactly systemic lupus erythematosus does to the body and how to recognize the disease in time.