Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body immune system, instead of serving its normal protective function, forms antibodies that attack healthy tissues and organs. For many people, lupus may be a mild disease affecting only a few body organs; for others, it may cause serious and even life-threatening problems. There are several types of lupus. Discoid lupus affects the skin, causing a rash and lesions, usually across the face and upper part of the body. Systemic lupus erythematosus, usually more severe than discoid, can attack any body organ or system, such as joints, kidneys, brain, heart and lungs. If not controlled, systemic lupus can be life-threatening. Another form of this disease is drug-induced lupus, caused by reaction to medication. When medication is discontinued, the lupus symptoms usually disappear. The number of Americans diagnosed with lupus is estimated at 500,000.
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