What is Lupus?

Our body has its own system for fighting off sickness called the immune system. When our immune system does not work correctly, you might get an autoimmune disease, which will make you feel even more sick than you did before.  Lupus is an autoimmune disease.

A healthy immune system is like an army that can protect you from germs and illnesses. If you have Lupus that means that your army is confused and attacks your good cells instead of the bad ones. People who have Lupus might not look sick, but they feel very tired, and weak.

No one really knows what causes Lupus, but it isn’t contagious, which means you can’t catch it from someone else who has it.

If a doctor thinks someone might have Lupus, he or she may send them to a rheumatologist. Rheumatologist are doctors who have special training in diagnosing and treating autoimmune diseases.

Lupus is a serious disease that is difficult to diagnose. Lupus can:
  • Affect many parts of the body
  • Happen in women more than men
  • Cause fatigue, pain all over body
  • Symptoms change everyday
  • One sign may be a skin rash on the face, in the shape of a butterfly

Butterfly rash across middle of face

  • Difficult to diagnose – symptoms are very close to other conditions
  • No test to diagnose
  • Passes down through genes
  • There is no cure for Lupus
  • Heart attack or stroke may happen, if not treated may cause death
Lupus can cause pain to many parts of the body:
  • Stomach – may throw up
  • Head- headaches
  • Lungs – Hard to breathe
  • Feet and legs – can swell up
  • Fingers – can turn white in cold weather
  • Pee in blood
Ways to help lower your risk of serious conditions:
  • Quit smoking (if you are a smoker)
  • Healthy diet – eat more fruit and vegetables, stay away from fatty foods
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Exercise
  • Do not drink a lot of alcohol
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule
  • Once someone has been diagnosed with Lupus the rheumatologist will decide on a treatment plan. The treatment will depend how severe parts of the body are affected.
  • People who have joint pain will take Acetaminophen like Tylenol or Advil
  • Other people may take an antimalarial to help treat skin rashes
  • If symptoms are very bad some people might take steroids, immunosuppressives, (not the kind that bodybuilders or athletes take).
Contact Information
  • Lupus Foundation of America – 1.800.558.0121
  • Books, Pamphlets, Awareness – 1.866.484.3532


Download Lupus brochure – Word format
Download Lupus brochure – PDF format