10 things you probably didn't know about lupus

1. Lupus is an illness of the immune system in which the body's defence mechanism starts making antibodies against its own cells . It is therefore called an auto-immune disease. This immune response can cause inflammation in cells which can affect one or many tissues in the body: skin, joints, muscles, blood vessels, blood cells, brain and nerves, other organs such as lungs, heart, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract and/or the linings around internal organs.

2. Symptoms of lupus can include: Joint/muscle aches and pains, fatigue, kidney problems, rashes, heart and lung involvement, hair loss, increased risk of miscarriage, oral/nasal ulcers, light sensitivity and more.

3. Ninety per cent of people with lupus are female, though men and young children can also be affected.

4. It currently takes an average of 7.5 years from the initial onset of symptoms for a patient to be diagnosed with lupus in the UK.

5. Forty-five per cent of lupus patients are initially misdiagnosed with another condition.

6. Only one treatment, Belimumab (Benlysta), has been approved specifically for use in lupus in over 50 years. It is still not currently licensed for use in the UK.

7. People with lupus have two-times the risk of developing cardiovascular disease than people without lupus.

8. About one in three people with lupus develop kidney disease. This figure is higher in younger patients and those from certain ethnic groups (including black and Asian patients).

9. People of Black African origin are about three-times more likely to develop lupus than those of white European origin.

10. Fifty years ago lupus was regarded as a terminal condition, as most people would die of a complication in the first ten years after being diagnosed. Thanks to advancements in treatments, now most people with lupus have a normal, or near normal, life expectancy.

October is Lupus Awareness Month and LUPUS UK has just launched their brand new website featuring a wide range of information leaflets and booklets which are free to download.