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African-American Women's Health: Lupus

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Lupus (LOO-puhss) is a disease in which the body attacks its own healthy tissues and organs. It can damage the joints, skin, kidneys, and other parts of the body. No one knows for sure what causes lupus. But some groups of people have higher rates of lupus. African-American women are three times more likely to get lupus than white women. African-American women tend to develop lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms than white women.

The signs of lupus differ from person to person. Some people have just a few signs, while others have more. Common symptoms include:

Joint pain and stiffness, with or without swelling
Muscle aches and pains
Fever with no known cause
Feeling very tired
Skin rashes
Anemia (uh-NEE-me-uh)
Trouble thinking, memory problems, confusion
Kidney problems with no known cause
Chest pain when taking a deep breath
Butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks
Sun or light sensitivity
Hair loss
Less common symptoms include:

Blood clots
Purple or pale fingers or toes from cold or stress
Sores in the mouth or nose (usually painless)
Severe headache
Dizzy spells
"Seeing things," not able to judge reality
Feeling sad

Having lupus can cause serious health problems. So it's important to have lupus symptoms checked by a doctor. Lupus has no cure. But treatment can ease symptoms and prevent or reduce damage caused by lupus.

More resources on minority women's health

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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