Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus)

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus)

What is lupus?
Systemic lupus erythematosus (also called SLE or lupus) is an autoimmune condition. The normal role of your body’s immune system is to fight off infections and diseases to keep you healthy. In an autoimmune disease like lupus, your immune system starts attacking your own healthy tissues. For some people lupus may just affect the skin and/or joints. In other people the lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, brain or other parts of the body may also be affected.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of lupus vary from person to person. Symptoms may come and go at different times. Although many parts of the body can be affected, most people usually have involvement of only a few parts. The most common symptoms are: • joint pain and/or swelling, especially in the hands or feet • skin rashes, made worse by being in the sun • sores in the mouth or nose • anaemia (low number of red blood cells).

What causes it?
It is not known what causes lupus. It is believed to be the result of a combination of factors, including genetics, viruses, sunlight, stress and hormones acting together. This is yet to be proven in research.

For more information about Systemic lupus erythematosus, download the info sheet.