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What actually is lupus?

Almost all of the patients at London Lupus Centre know what lupus is, however if you have recently been diagnosed with lupus or have a close relative or friend that has been diagnosed, you may not be aware of what the disease actually is.

“What is lupus?” is a comment we hear a lot. So here it is:

Lupus is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. Put in easy form, this means that the immune system, that usually protects the body, ‘turns on’ the body and attacks itself. If left untreated this can cause inflammation throughout the body and chronic (long term) inflammation which can cause permanent damage to the tissue and organs.

Although lupus can affect almost every part of the body, the worst affected organs often include kidney, heart, lungs and brain. It can also have a major effects on blood vessels, joints and skin.

Everyone affected by lupus will have a different experience with the disease. Lupus patients will go through flare ups and remission. A flare up is when the symptoms are heightened and remission is when the symptoms are not having a huge effect.

The exact cause of lupus is still unknown. It is thought that it can be brought on by genes, environment or triggers and hormones. Research has shown that some people are genetically predisposed to lupus, and then symptoms are brought on by a trigger such as stress, pregnancy or an extreme physical injury.

In the UK it is thought that around 50,000 people have lupus, which is equal to around 1 in 1000 people. Across the world it is though that the number of people with lupus is 5 million. Around 80% of these people are 15-45 years old and around 90% of those are women.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team about of team at London Lupus Centre please +44 (0) 20 7234 2155


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