What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, primarily the skin, joints, kidney, and brain. The disease affects the immune system, causing it to become hyperactive. Normally the system makes proteins (antibodies) in order to fight antigens (viruses & bacteria). Lupus causes the immune system to confuse the antigens and healthy tissue, attacking and killing both. This leads to chronic pain, swelling, and long-term tissue damage.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, “One and a half to two million American’s have a form of the disease, and it’s more common than muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, leukemia, and cerebral palsy.”
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is the most common form of the disorder that largely affects the skin, joints, kidney, and brain. While the disease occurs in multiple forms, this version of the disorder is referred to as, “systemic,” because it affects multiple organs. A localized autoimmune disease, like type-1 diabetes, affects only one organ. The main complication of this version of the disease is inflammation, which occurs in the CNS, brain, kidneys, and blood vessels. Some patients with SLE develop abnormal deposits in their kidney cells, which tend to cause kidney failure.
The condition, Lupus Nephritis, typically results in dialysis or a kidney transplant. Several patients suffer from a version of the disorder that exclusively affects the skin, called Cutaneous Lupus. They typically have swollen lymph nodes and a distinguishable scaly, red rash on the cheeks and bridge of their nose known as the butterfly rash. This version is also known as Discoid Lupus because the rash is circular in shape, like discs.