Lupus is an autoimmune disease that damages parts of the body such as the skin, joints, and organs. The term chronic means that the symptoms tend to last from a few months to years. In lupus, something goes wrong with the body's immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (Lupus Foundation of America, 2011). There are several types of lupus such as drug-induced lupus, subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus, discoid lupus erythematosus, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Of the four types, systemic lupus erythematosus is found to be the most common ("Womens Health", 2009).
Etiology (causal factors).
Lupus is not a contagious disease, in other words it cannot be transmitted from person to person. Though there is no exact cause for lupus, research shows that the environment, hormones, and genes do play a role (Lupus Foundation of America, 2011). Environmental elements such as sunlight, smoking, medications, and viruses can trigger symptoms in people who are more susceptible to getting lupus. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, emotional stress such as a divorce, illness, death in the family, or other complications may trigger lupus. Stress to the body, surgery, pregnancy, as well as giving birth can also set off a flare up. The role of hormones and genes are further explained in the structural variables section. .
Characteristics (signs and symptoms).
A doctor who is considering the possibility of lupus will look for signs of inflammation such as pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function at a particular place in the body. Inflammation can occur both on the inside and outside of the body. To help the doctors diagnose lupus, a list of 11 common symptoms, known as the ACR criteria, was developed by the American College of Rheumatology. Some of the common criteria include the malar rash, serositis, and photosensitivity. A malar rash forms over the cheeks and nose.