As of 2015, the cause of lupus is unknown, but doctors believe some individuals are genetically predisposed, according to Mayo Clinic. The condition may manifest when people who are genetically susceptible come in contact with environmental triggers, such as infections, medication or ultraviolet light.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes proteins from the immune system, known as antibodies, to attack healthy tissue, instead of only fighting off harmful antigens, Medical News Today states. Epstein-Barr virus and hepatitis C are examples of infections associated with the onset of lupus, and factors such as stress, smoking and exposure to trichloroethylene compounds are also possible triggers.
Women of average childbearing age, between 15 and 45, are most likely to develop lupus, so many doctors suspect the condition is linked to hormones, Medical News Today notes. Lupus leads to inflammatory symptoms, such as sore joints and swelling, and patients often develop episodic skin lesions, fever, fatigue, anemia and chest pain. Other symptoms include seizures, changes in weight, hair loss, mouth or nose ulcers and butterfly-shaped facial rashes.
The inflammatory nature of lupus can threaten healthy tissue growth throughout the body, according to Mayo Clinic. For example, lupus suffers are often vulnerable to kidney failure, lung inflammation and blood clotting. If the disease targets the nervous system, patients may experience neurological systems, such as headaches, strokes and memory complications.