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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
There are two forms of lupus (LOO-pis): discoid (DIS-koyd) lupus and systemic (sis-TEM-ick) lupus. Discoid lupus is a condition that affects the skin and mucous membranes and is characterized by red patches on the face or other sun-exposed areas. Systemic lupus is a progressive disease of the body's immune system and may involve the skin. Lupus belongs to the family of rheumatic (roo-MAT-ick) diseases, occurring when the antibodies produced to fight infection attack healthy tissue instead. Lupus occurs mainly in young women, particularly those of childbearing age. Systemic lupus can affect nearly every organ in the body, causing complications such as pleurisy (PLOOR-ih-see), kidney lesions, disorders of the central nervous system, and inflammation of the membrane lining the heart and the sac surrounding the heart. Symptoms are not always constant, often disappearing only to return. One of the most identifiable signs is a 'butterfly' rash that appears across the cheeks and nose. Rashes may also appear on the neck and arms and may worsen when exposed to the sun. Other early signs include fever, weakness, fatigue, nausea, or weight loss. If you have lupus, carefully follow the treatment program recommended by your doctor. Keeping the disease under control is the best way to avoid major problems. For more information on lupus, contact a health care provider.

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