Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, is a potentially fatal autoimmune disease that affects about 1.5 million Americans. About 16,000 new cases of lupus are diagnosed each year, and the actual number of people who have the disease may be much higher. Worldwide, lupus affects about 5 million people, mostly women between the ages of 15 and 44 years. The disease derived its name from the Latin word for wolf after 13th-century physician Rogerius, who likened the appearance of lupus facial lesions to the bite marks made by a wolf. :
In lupus, the body’s immune system malfunctions and begins to attack healthy tissue throughout the body, including the skin, joints, heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and blood vessels. Although the cause of lupus hasn’t been identified, most researchers believe it to be a combination of genetics and environmental exposures. Potential disease triggers in those who are susceptible to lupus include viral or bacterial infections that set off an abnormal immune reaction; medications such as blood pressure drugs, anti-seizure medications or certain antibiotics; or even exposure to sunlight. 
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Lupus can cause symptoms throughout the body, and they can vary widely from person to person. Symptoms can also change dramatically as the disease takes its course. One of the hallmark signs of lupus is the so-called butterfly rash, a red rash that occurs midface, spreading across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose. Although the rash is often indicative of the disease, it does not occur in all people with lupus.
- Swollen, painful joints
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Chronic headaches
- Low red blood cell count (anemia) or decline in total blood volume
- Sensitivity to light
- Sores in the mouth or nose
- Swelling in the extremities around the eyes
- Hair loss
- Pleurisy (presenting as chest pain during deep breaths)
- Abnormal blood clotting
Organ-specific symptoms include :
- Brain/nervous system: numbness, tingling, seizures, mood or personality changes
- Heart: arrhythmias
- Lung: breathing problems
- Gastrointestinal tract: nausea and vomiting
When lupus affects the kidneys, a potentially life-threatening condition called lupus nephritis can develop.
Because so many lupus symptoms occur in other diseases and medical conditions as well, including other immune-mediated diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, diagnosing lupus can be problematic, and a blood test is used to confirm diagnosis to ensure proper treatment. 
There is currently no cure for lupus. Treatment is focused on relieving symptoms with medications and lifestyle changes that are dependent on each person’s condition, the stage of the disease and the symptoms. Treatments typically change as the disease evolves over time. Medications used to treat lupus include: 
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are used to treat pain and inflammation, and prescriptions NSAIDs may be used when over-the-counter remedies prove ineffectual.
- Corticosteroids like prednisone can provide stronger anti-inflammatory benefits, but long-term use also comes with more side effects, including increased risks for diabetes, osteoporosis and infections, and significant weight gain.
- Immunosuppressants to suppress the immune system and help slow the progression of the disease. Immunosuppressants can have serious side effects, including an increased risks of serious infections, liver damage and cancer, and are primarily used only in advanced cases of lupus. Other side effects include gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea and fever.
- Antimalarial drugs can also be used to help control lupus in some patients. Side effects include upset stomach and retinal damage in rare cases.
Lifestyle modifications include getting plenty of rest, not just at night but also during the day to combat fatigue; avoiding prolonged sun exposure; getting plenty of exercise; eating a healthy diet; and quitting smoking.