Term: Lupus

Description: Lupus is an autoimmune disease that chronically damages parts of the body. About 5 million people worldwide have a form of this disease, with the US being home to 1.5 million of those people. "Lupus" is used most often to refer to one of the four main kinds of lupus which are:

  • Discoid lupus erythematosus. This type affects the skin and is also known as cutaneous lupus.
  • Drug-induced lupus erythematosus. Drug-induced lupus can occur as a side effect of some drugs, such as beta blockers, which are commonly used to treat heart disease and hypertension.
  • Neonatal lupus erythematosus. This is a rare form of lupus in newborn babies, whose mothers have lupus, and can cause problems at birth or in rare cases, a serious heart defect.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus. Systemic lupus causes inflammation in multiple organs and body systems.

Symptoms can range from but aren't limited to:

  • Chest pain when taking a deep breath
  • Fatigue
  • Fever with no other cause
  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Skin rash - a "butterfly" rash in about half people with systematic lupus erythematosus
  • Swollen lymph nodes
The most common demographic to be diagnosed with lupus is women ages 15-44, with women of color being 2-3x more likely than Caucasian women to develop it. Contrary to what some shows may display when it comes to treatment, surgery is only used if the disease has damaged the kidneys beyond repair. Otherwise treatment is managed with medications.

To date there aren't many official applications for lupus as it's a disease and not a treatment. However a company called To The Hand LLC created a symptom manager application for the Android operating system on mobile devices titled "LupusTracker Pro." The intention of this application is to help patients monitor and manage their symptoms with export and email options to send the information to their doctors.

Lupus in Pop Culture:
The most popular and well known references to Lupus in pop culture stem from the show "HOUSE, M.D." In multiple episodes of the show, Lupus turns up as a possible diagnosis only to be disproved/shot down later. This led to the phrase "It's not Lupus" becoming an Internet meme even after one episode actually did have a final diagnosis of lupus (Episode 4x08, "You Don't Want to Know").

Lupus running joke in House:

Lupus finally being the diagnosis:

Web Resources:



Related Terminology: autoimmune disease, chronic disease