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Could I have lupus?

Learn more about lupus on /publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/lupus.html.

Lupus (LOO-puhss) is a disease in which the body attacks its own healthy tissues and organs. It can damage the joints, skin, kidneys, and other parts of the body. No one knows for sure what causes lupus. But some groups of people have higher rates of lupus. African-American women are three times more likely to get lupus than white women. African-American women tend to develop lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms than white women.

The signs of lupus differ from person to person. Some people have just a few signs, while others have more. Common symptoms include:

  • Joint pain and stiffness, with or without swelling
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Fever with no known cause
  • Feeling very tired
  • Skin rashes
  • Anemia (uh-NEE-me-uh)
  • Trouble thinking, memory problems, confusion
  • Kidney problems with no known cause
  • Chest pain when taking a deep breath
  • Butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks
  • Sun or light sensitivity
  • Hair loss

Less common symptoms include:

  • Blood clots
  • Purple or pale fingers or toes from cold or stress
  • Seizures
  • Sores in the mouth or nose (usually painless)
  • Severe headache
  • Dizzy spells
  • "Seeing things," not able to judge reality
  • Feeling sad
  • Strokes

Having lupus can cause serious health problems. So it's important to have lupus symptoms checked by a doctor. Lupus has no cure. But treatment can ease symptoms and prevent or reduce damage caused by lupus.

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Content last updated: May 18, 2010.

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