More than 1.5 million Americans are living with lupus, with an estimated 16,000 patients diagnosed with the autoimmune disease each year. Here are five fast facts about this common, complex condition.
1) Lupus is an Often-Missed Diagnosis.
The most common form of lupus is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), which can affect nearly every organ in the body. Symptoms of SLE include fatigue, joint pain, fever, muscle pain, weight loss, rashes and inflammation of the heart, kidneys, eyes, lungs, liver, spleen and blood vessels. Because the symptoms of lupus can be diffuse and vague, it’s an often-missed diagnosis. On average, it takes patients six years to receive an accurate diagnosis from the onset of their symptoms.
2) Lupus Can Be Genetic.
While many patients develop lupus without any family history of the disease, there can be a genetic component. In fact, more than 100 genetic mutations have been linked to lupus. Twenty percent of lupus patients have a parent or sibling who has also been diagnosed with the disease. And five percent of children born to lupus patients will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime.
3) Certain People Are at a Higher Risk of Developing Lupus.
There are several strong risk factors for developing lupus. Women are almost ten times more likely to have lupus than men, with women of color two to three times as likely to develop lupus as their Caucasian counterparts. Lupus is also most commonly diagnosed in patients ages 15-44.
4) Lupus Can Be Diagnosed with Urine and Blood Tests.
Patients who have symptoms of lupus should undergo a workup to test for lupus (as well as other potential causes of their symptoms). Testing for lupus involves bloodwork and urine tests. In some complicated cases, patients undergo organ biopsies to determine if lupus is the cause of their symptoms.
5) Lupus is Treatable.
While lupus is a serious diagnosis, the good news is that there are many treatment options available for patients affected by it. In fact, 85-90% of people diagnosed with the disease will go on to live a normal lifespan.
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