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What causes lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake, which leads to the symptoms.

Unfortunately, it is not known what exactly causes it, but it has been suggested that the risk of developing it appears to be linked to certain genetic, hormonal and environmental factors. There are also triggers that can cause the condition to flare up.

Genetics and lupus

Genes are thought to play a part in whether you are more likely to develop lupus or not. In fact, researchers have found more than 50 genes that they associate with the disease.

If you have a sibling with lupus, you are statistically more likely to develop it, compared to someone who does not, suggesting is could be hereditary. Likewise, if someone else in your family has another autoimmune disease, such as MS, diabetes, thyroid problems or Raynaud’s, you are more likely to develop lupus.

Certain ethnic groups, including African, Asian or Hispanic, also have a greater chance of developing the disease.

Environmental factors and lupus

Certain environmental factors also appear to increase the likelihood of developing lupus. Some of these factors include smoking, stress, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, hormonal changes, going through childbirth, certain infections, certain toxins and silica dust and certain medications. Researchers are still looking for more concrete evidence in this field.

In rare cases, long term use of some medications can trigger lupus, which is called drug induced lupus erythematosus (DILE).

The earlier lupus is caught, the easier it is to manage. So, if you are worried that you may have it, speak to a doctor for more advice. They can refer you to a specialist for further investigations if needed, so that you can get the treatment you need.

If you have already been diagnosed and need advice on how to manage your lupus, or if you are experiencing a flare up, our doctors can help.