Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems including the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. The course of the disease is unpredictable, with periods of illness (called flare-ups) alternating with remissions.
The causes are believed to be genetic, environmental or hormonal. Some people are born with a tendency toward developing lupus, which may be triggered by infections, certain drugs or even sunlight.
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other ailments. Conducting a blood test is often the first step in diagnosing the disease, but this is not definitive as there are often false-positives. It is imperative to seek the advice of a rheumatologist to make a conclusive diagnosis.