Systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as SLE, or simply lupus, is
a disease that is characterized by periodic episodes of inflammation
of and damage to the joints, tendons, other connective tissues, and
organs, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and
skin. The heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain are the organs most
affected. Lupus affects each individual differently and the effects of
the illness range from mild to severe. Lupus can potentially be fatal.
The majority of people who have lupus are young women (late teens to
30s). This may be due to the fact that estrogen (a female hormone)
seems to be associated with lupus. Lupus affects more
African-Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans than
Caucasian Americans. Lupus in children occurs most often at the age of
10 and older; lupus is rare in children younger than 5 years of age.
The disease is known to have periods of flare-ups and periods of
remission (partial or complete lack of symptoms). Children with lupus
can have a large degree of kidney involvement. The severity of the
kidney involvement can alter the survival rate of patients with lupus.
In some cases, kidney damage is so severe it leads to kidney failure.