In short, Lupus is not contagious. You can’t catch it from another person, even through close contact or sex. Doctors believe lupus starts due to a combination of genes and environmental factors.
Lupus affects around 1.5 million Americans. Lupus develops when your immune system misfires and attacks your joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, and heart. Lupus causes inflammation and damage to organs.
Read on to learn more about the causes, risk factors, and ways you can keep yourself safe.
What Causes Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is one in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your own tissues.
Normally, your immune system protects your body against bacteria and viruses. When your immune system detects these germs, it attacks by sending immune cells and antibodies. Autoimmune diseases cause the immune system to mistake your own tissues, such as your skin, joints, or heart, and attacks them.
Doctors think several factors trigger this immune system mistake, including:
- Your genes: Lupus sometimes runs in families. Researchers have found over 50 genes they believe are linked to the condition. Although most of the genes are unlikely to cause lupus by themselves, they make you more vulnerable to developing lupus.
- Your environment: If you have lupus, certain factors can worsen your symptoms. Ultraviolet light from the sun, infections and viruses, and exposure to certain chemicals and medications may set off lupus symptoms.
Who is at Risk of Developing Lupus?
You are more likely to develop lupus if:
- You’re a female: Nine times more women than men have lupus.
- You’re between the ages 15-44: Lupus most often begins at this age range.
- One of your close relatives has lupus or another autoimmune disease: Conditions like lupus tend to run in families. People whose close relatives have lupus, like a parent or sibling, have a 5-13 percent risk of developing the disease.
- Your family is of African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Island descent: Lupus is more common in these groups.
What Are the Symptoms to Watch For?
Everyone experiences lupus differently, but