Lupus is an autoimmune condition where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues.
For some people, lupus may just affect the skin and/or joints. In other people, it may also affect the lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, brain or other parts of the body.
Symptoms vary from person to person and may come and go at different times. The most common symptoms are:
Many people with lupus have ‘flares’ (this is periods of time when their symptoms get worse). Flares can happen with no obvious cause. There is no way of knowing how bad a flare will be or how long they will last. But they might happen more often during times of stress, or may be caused by sun exposure, infections, and pregnancy.
It is not known what causes lupus. It might be a combination of factors like genetics, viruses, sunlight, stress and hormones acting
together. This is yet to be proven in research.
There is no one single test that can tell whether you have lupus. It can be difficult, and often takes time to diagnose lupus as the symptoms can be similar to other types of arthritis.
Your doctor will diagnose lupus from your symptoms, a clinical examination and various tests. This can include tests of the blood and urine,
and organs such as your heart and lungs. .
There is currently no cure for lupus. But, treatment has improved dramatically. New medicines are extremely helpful in controlling the condition.
With close follow-up and the right treatment, most people with lupus can expect to live a full and active life. But for some people it can cause serious and even life-threatening problems.
Your doctor will tailor treatment to your symptoms and the severity of your condition. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing exactly which treatment will work best for you. So, your doctor may need to try several different treatments before finding the right one for you.
What can you do?
Download some of our free handy information sheets on lupus and managing arthritis symptoms.
Register for Arthritis Assist to speak one-on-one with someone else living with arthritis.
Join one of our online support groups to connect with other Australians living with arthritis.
Have questions? Call our free infoline on 1800 011 041 to speak with a member of our health team.
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