Lupus is the commonly known term for a type of arthritis called systemic lupus erythematosus. African American and Asian females between the ages of 10 to 50 are at the highest risk of developing lupus, though this autoimmune disease can potentially impact anyone regardless of age, gender, or ethnic background. However, a woman with lupus is five times more likely to die from the illness than a man with lupus.
Unlike osteoarthritis or gout, lupus is a potentially fatal disease in which the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells. Lupus can cause serious damage to not only the skin, bones, and joints, but also organs such as the brain and kidneys. Due to modern medicine, about 80 percent of people with lupus are alive more than 10 years after their initial diagnosis but usually experience physical pain that severely restricts their daily activities.
No type of arthritis has a permanent cure and autoimmune diseases such as lupus are particularly difficult to treat. Aggressive treatment regimens typically reserved for patients with cancer and malaria are often required, though such remedies can create a number of serious side effects including convulsions or irregular heartbeat. Doctors typically prescribe corticosteroids and recommend painkillers such as prescription Percocet or over-the-counter ibuprofen to reduce joint pain and swelling.
Lupus may cause or coincide with other potentially life-altering conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome. About 80 percent of patients with lupus also experience chronic fatigue syndrome, which is excessive tiredness that rest cannot relieve. Fifty percent of lupus patients will suffer severe kidney damage and may need dialysis to drain fluid wastes from the body.