The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 to 2 million Americans have a form of lupus. Despite the fact that lupus can affect men and women of all ages, it occurs 10 to 15 times more frequently in adult females than in adult males. Lupus develops most often between ages 15 and 44 and is two to three times more common among African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans.
Lupus is a widespread and chronic autoimmune disease that, for unknown reasons, causes the immune system to attack the body's own tissue and organs, including the joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, blood, or skin. The immune system normally protects the body against viruses, bacteria, and other foreign materials. In an autoimmune disease like lupus, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissue. The immune system then makes antibodies directed against itself.
Although lupus can affect any part of the body, the most common symptoms are achy joints, frequent fevers, arthritis, fatigue, skin rashes, kidney problems, chest pain with deep breathing, a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheek and nose, photosensitivity, impaired vision, Raynaud's phenomenon, and seizures. No single set of symptoms is uniformly specific to lupus and no laboratory test can prove lupus conclusively; symptoms may disappear for no apparent reason and remain in remission for weeks, months, or even years.
Lupus on the Job
The Job Accommodation Network's (JAN's) Accommodation and Compliance Series is designed to help employers determine effective accommodations and comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each publication in the series addresses a specific medical condition and provides information about the condition, ADA information, accommodation ideas, and resources for additional information.