What is Lupus? Disease attacks entire body, despite the person looking healthy. [Representational Image]Creative Commons

A large-scale international survey recently revealed that there is a low awareness and many misconceptions surrounding the disease. The results were published by Lupus Foundation of America on Thursday.

The 16-nation survey found that the disease is a global health problem affecting more than half (51%) of survey respondents, many of whom were unaware that it's a disease.

Of the people who were surveyed and knew lupus is a disease, almost half of them (48%) aged over 55 did not know that there are complications associated with lupus.

For people who have no idea what the disease is about, it's a systemic autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Lupus can cause inflammation and affect different body parts such as joints, kidneys, skin, blood cells, heart, brain, and lungs.

Despite the effect the disease has on the patient, it is very difficult to diagnose lupus since the common symptoms that often similar to other ailments.


The most distinctive sign of the disease is a butterfly-shaped facial rash on nose and both cheeks. It occurs in many cases but not in all cases.

Other symptoms include, fatigue, fever, joint pain, skin lesions appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity), shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, confusion and memory loss.

Weirdly enough, no two cases of lupus are exactly same.

The signs and symptoms may develop slowly or suddenly, may be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. One should visit a doctor when there's some unexplained rash, ongoing fever, persistent aching or fatigue.


Lupus occurs when the immune system of the body attacks the healthy tissue in the body. According to Mayo Clinic, this likely results from a combination of genetics and the environment of the person. People with an inherited predisposition for lupus may develop the disease when they come in contact with something in the environment. Here are some other things that may trigger the disease:

  • Sunlight: Exposure to sun may result in skin lesions or even trigger it in susceptible people.
  • Infections: An infection can result in lupus or cause a relapse in some people.
  • Medications: Certain antibiotics or other medicines might trigger the disease in some people. Drug-induced lupus, however, usually get better when they stop taking the medicine. In rare cases, the symptoms may persist even after stopping the consumption of the drug.

Some people might be born with a tendency of developing lupus, which might get triggered by infections, certain drugs or sunlight. There's no cure for lupus but there are treatments that can help control the symptoms.