Quick Lupus Facts
While lupus is not well known or understood, it is far more common than better known diseases such as leukemia, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis. Without early diagnosis and treatment, lupus can be severely debilitating, even deadly.
Here are a few quick facts about lupus:
- Lupus is a widespread and chronic autoimmune disease that, for unknown reasons, causes the immune system to attack the body’s own connective tissues and organs, including joints (rheumatoid arthritis), kidneys (called lupus nephritis), heart, lungs, brain, blood, and skin (called cutaneous lupus).
- Up to 1.5 million Americans are afflicted by some form of lupus, while more than five million people are known to be affected worldwide.
- Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, rashes, hair loss (called alopecia), swollen glands, sensitivity to light (photosensitivity), chest, muscle and joint pain, ulcers in the mouth or nose, and others.
- Typical treatments include steroids (like Prednisone), painkillers, and immunosuppressants, as well as behavior and diet changes. In March 2011, Benlysta became the first FDA-approved lupus drug treatment in over 50 years.
- Ninety percent of those afflicted are women and 80% are between the ages of 15 and 45.
- People of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
- If left untreated, lupus is potentially fatal. Lupus can lead to organ damage and failure. Serious conditions that can arise include kidney disease, pancreatitis, pleurisy, vasculitis, pericarditis, and cancer.
- Lupus is one of America’s least recognized major diseases. While lupus is widespread, awareness and accurate knowledge about it lags decades behind many other illnesses.
- Living a full life with lupus is possible, but doing so relies heavily on early diagnosis and consistent treatment.
- More than 16,000 Americans are diagnosed with lupus each year.
- There are many treatments for lupus’ symptoms, but there is no cure…yet!