Lupus Awareness: What is Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation in one or more parts of the body.
It belongs to the family of diseases that includes rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, and scleroderma. The most common type of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It is estimated that lupus affects over 1:1000 Canadian’s, thus there are thousands of people in Ontario with SLE. Systemic lupus is a complex and sometimes baffling condition that can target any tissue or organ of the body, including skin, muscles, joints, blood and blood vessels, lungs, heart, kidneys and the brain.
There are other types of lupus which mainly affect the skin. A few individuals develop drug-induced lupus as a response to some medications used to treat other conditions. These symptoms disappear when the person stops taking the medication.
Each person’s experience of being diagnosed, treated and living with lupus will be very different.
Lupus can target any of the body’s tissues and is often hard to pin down or diagnose. That’s why it is called “the disease with a thousand faces”.
  • A person with lupus may experience some of the following symptoms:
  • Joint pain, sometimes with swelling
  • A red rash across the upper cheeks and bridge of the nose
  • Extreme fatigue
  • An unusual reaction to sunlight
  • A red scaly skin rash
  • Small ulcers inside the nose or mouth
  • Chest pain, worse when lying down or inhaling
  • Swelling of feet and legs
  • Seizures or severe neurological symptoms
  • Hair loss
This is far from a complete list of symptoms. Also, some findings are apparent only in blood tests. Thus the diagnosis of lupus must be made by a doctor.
Information from Lupus Ontario:

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