What is Lupus?

Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses what the disease Lupus involves.

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Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses what the disease Lupus involves.
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Video transcript

Featuring Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC

Duration: 1 minute, 51 seconds

Lupus is a systemic autoimmune condition of which many know the name; very few know much about.  

It's a disorder that remains elusive because it can present in so many different fashions. The disease itself is one of young women typically.  

It's unusual for an individual over the age of 40 to develop systemic lupus, although it never can be ruled out 100 percent. It's also an unusual condition in males. For every 10 to 15 females with lupus, there may be one male. 

It is a condition we don't know the cause. It's also a condition that, when it presents, it presents with many different manifestations, the most common being skin condition, so any form of skin condition, sun sensitivity, not easily burned, but sun sensitivity where one almost develops an allergy or a rash to direct sunlight.  

It's also strongly associated, and one of the reasons why rheumatologists deal with lupus a lot, is because it's associated with inflammation of joints, called arthritis. The way to think of lupus is to think of the immune system as working, but unfortunately, no longer recognizing foreign and self, but actually mixing the two and starting to attack itself.  So it causes inflammation throughout the body and the body's organs.  

It is treated, but it first needs to be recognized, and the severity of the disease needs to be recognized before a treatment algorithm can be developed. Lupus has a highly variable prognosis because of the variety of manifestations which can occur.

The vast majority of manifestations of lupus are treatable. One should seek attention with their medical practitioner and referral to a specialist with expertise in this area before going forward.   

Presenter: Dr. John Watterson, Rheumatologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.