Lupus : Know the Causes, Risk Factors, Prevention And Treatment


When your body's immune system assaults your own tissues and organs, it develops the illness of lupus (autoimmune disease). Many body processes, including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs, can be affected by inflammation caused by lupus.

Due to how frequently its signs and symptoms resemble those of other illnesses, lupus can be challenging to diagnose. In many but not all instances of lupus, the most recognisable lupus symptom—a face rash that looks like butterfly wings expanding over both cheeks—occurs.

Lupus can be brought on by diseases, drugs, or even sunlight, but some people are susceptible to it from birth. Although there is no proven treatment for lupus, medications can help control symptoms.


Lupus is an autoimmune illness, meaning it develops when your body's healthy tissue is attacked by your immune system. It is likely that a mix of your genetics and environment led to the development of lupus.

It seems that individuals who have a hereditary propensity for lupus may develop the condition when they come into touch with an environmental trigger. In the majority of instances, the aetiology of lupus is unknown. Among the possible triggers are:

Sunlight. In those who are sensitive, exposure to the sun may cause internal reactions or skin lesions associated with lupus.

Infections. Some people might develop lupus or experience a relapse after contracting an infection.

Medications. Some types of blood pressure drugs, anti-seizure medications, and antibiotics can all cause lupus. individuals with drug-induced

When they stop using the medicine, people with lupus often get well. Symptoms may sporadically continue even after the medicine is discontinued.

How to check if you have Lupus?

If you get an inexplicable rash, a continuing fever, persistent aches, or exhaustion, consult a doctor.

Risk Factors

The following elements may raise your chance of developing lupus:

  • Your sexual orientation. In women, lupus is more prevalent.
  • Age. Despite the fact that lupus may afflict persons of any age, it is often discovered between the ages of 15 and 45.


Lupus instances vary greatly from one another. The onset of symptoms and indications may be sudden or gradual, mild or severe, temporary or long-lasting. The majority of lupus sufferers have a mild illness that is characterised by episodes, or flares, where symptoms worsen for a while, then improve or even go away entirely for a period.

The bodily systems that are impacted by the disease will determine the signs and symptoms of lupus you experience. The most common red flags and symptoms are:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Oedema, stiffness, and joint discomfort
  • Rashes elsewhere on the body or a butterfly-shaped rash on the face that encompasses the cheekbones and nasal bridge. 
  • Skin lesions develop or get worse after exposure to the sun.
  • Toes and fingers that when exposed to cold or under stress, become white or blue
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chest pain
  • Wet eyes
  • Migraines, disorientation, and forgetfulness


You could require lupus therapy depending on your symptoms and warning signs. A thorough discussion of the advantages and disadvantages with your doctor is necessary to decide if you should be treated and what drugs to take.

You and your doctor may decide that you need to adjust your medicine or dose when your signs and symptoms increase and decrease. The following drugs are most frequently used to treat lupus:

Medications that are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs). For the treatment of pain, swelling, and fever brought on by lupus, over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may be utilised. By prescription, stronger NSAIDs are available. Stomach bleeding, renal issues, and an elevated risk of cardiac issues are possible NSAID side effects.

Medications that fight malaria. Drugs that are frequently used to treat malaria include hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), which has an immune-system-altering effect and can aid in lowering the likelihood of lupus flare-ups. Unpleasant stomach symptoms and, very infrequently, retinal damage to the eye are possible side effects. It is advised to get routine eye exams when taking these drugs.

Corticosteroids. Prednisone and other corticosteroid medications help reduce lupus inflammation. The treatment of severe diseases affecting the kidneys and brain sometimes entails high dosages of steroids like methylprednisolone (Medrol). Weight gain, easy bruising, weakening bones, high blood pressure, diabetes, and an increased risk of infection are a few of the side effects. Higher dosages and prolonged therapy increase the risk of adverse effects.

Immunosuppressants. In severe forms of lupus, immune system-suppressing medications may be beneficial. A few examples include azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral, Gengraf), mycophenolate (Cellcept), methotrexate (Trexall, Xatmep, others), and leflunomide (Arava). A higher chance of infection, liver damage, lower fertility, and a higher risk of cancer are examples of possible adverse effects.

Biologics. Some persons also see a reduction in lupus symptoms after receiving the intravenous form of a separate medicine called belimumab (Benlysta). Infections, diarrhoea, and nausea are examples of side effects. Occasionally, depression may deteriorate.

For some patients, rituximab (Rituxan, Truxima) may be helpful if previous drugs have not worked. Infections and an allergic response to the intravenous infusion are examples of side effects.

Voclosporin has been demonstrated to be efficient in treating lupus in clinical studies.

Abatacept (Orencia), anifrolumab, and other medicines are actively being researched as possible lupus treatments.

Complications of Lupus

Lupus-related inflammation can impact a variety of body parts, including:

Kidneys. Serious kidney disease can result from lupus, and renal failure is one of the main reasons why patients with lupus pass away.

Central nervous system and brain. You may encounter headaches, vertigo, behavioural changes, visual issues, strokes, or seizures if your brain is impacted by lupus. Many lupus patients have memory issues and may struggle to verbalise their concerns.

Vascular blood. Anaemia (low levels of healthy red blood cells) and an elevated risk of bleeding or blood clotting are two blood issues that lupus may cause. Blood vessel irritation may also result from it.

Lungs. If you have lupus, your likelihood of getting inflammation of the lining of the chest chamber can make breathing difficult. Also probable are pneumonia and bleeding into the lungs.

Heart. Your heart muscle, arteries, or heart membrane may become inflamed as a result of lupus. Moreover, there is a significant rise in the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular illness.

Complications of different kinds

Moreover, having lupus raises your chance of:

Infection. Since lupus can impair the immune system, both the illness and its therapies make lupus patients more susceptible to infection.

Cancer. Although the danger is tiny, having lupus seems to raise your risk of developing cancer.

Death of bone tissue. This happens when the blood flow to a bone decreases, which frequently causes little cracks in the bone before the bone finally collapses.

Obstetric complications. Women with lupus are more vulnerable to having a miscarriage. Preterm birth and high blood pressure during pregnancy are made more likely by lupus. Doctors frequently advise waiting until your condition has been under control for at least six months before getting pregnant in order to lower the chance of these consequences.

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Page last reviewed: Mar 17, 2023

Next review due: Mar 17, 2025

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