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Lupus Is Not a Simple Disease

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Updated June 27, 2014

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Part 1 of 9 - Lupus Explained

Lupus Explained

Lupus isn't a simple disease with an easy fix. If you think you may have lupus, you probably have many questions.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. A normal immune system fights foreign substances in the body, such as germs and viruses. But, in autoimmune diseases, the immune system is out of control. It attacks healthy tissues.

Lupus is a disease that can affect many parts of the body. Everyone is different. One person with lupus may have swollen knees and fever. Another person may be tired all the time or have kidney trouble. Someone else may have rashes. Lupus can involve the:

  • joints
  • skin
  • kidneys
  • lungs
  • heart and/or the brain

Types of Lupus

There are three main types of lupus:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common form. It's sometimes called SLE, or just lupus. The word "systemic" means that the disease can involve many parts of the body such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. SLE symptoms can be mild or serious.
  • Discoid lupus erythematosus mainly affects the skin. A red rash may appear, or the skin on the face, scalp, or elsewhere may change color.
  • Drug-induced lupus is triggered by a few medicines. It is similar to SLE, but symptoms are usually milder. Most of the time, the disease goes away when the offending medicine is stopped.

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