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Use the information below to help you better understand lupus, and to spark conversations with members of your healthcare team.
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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the immune system.
The immune system is a group of cells, tissues, and organs that protect the body from infection.
A chronic disorder is a health condition that lasts for a long time. Usually it lasts for more than several months.
The disease activity of SLE can change. Patients can have periods of increased disease activity called flares. Patients can also have times when disease activity is reduced, called relative remission.
Symptoms of SLE may be different from person to person. They can even be different in the same person over time.
SLE symptoms can range from mild to very severe, and affect nearly every part of the body.
SLE can affect any organ in the body, and may cause a wide range of symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Extreme fatigue that doesn't go away with rest
- Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling in two or more joints
- Fever over 100°F
- Muscle pain
- Hair loss
- Skin sores and rashes (which may occur in a butterfly-shaped pattern across the cheeks and nose)
- Nose or mouth sores (usually painless)
- Skin rashes after sun exposure
Signs are abnormal events or incidents caused by disease that can be seen by others, such as rash or an abnormal lab test. Symptoms are abnormal events or incidents that you feel and cannot be seen by others, such as headache or fatigue.
A flare is new or worsening of signs and/or symptoms that signal increased disease activity.
SLE can affect any organ, although not every patient will have every organ affected.
Organs that can be affected by SLE include the:
• Eyes and mouth
• Muscles and bones
It's important to note that more SLE disease activity can cause more damage to organs. It can even cause death. That's why it's so important to report all your symptoms to your doctor.
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