Our immune system protects us from the harms of the outside world and does an amazing job. It’s able to recognize an enormous variety of foreign invaders and to design weapons specific to each one. In doing so, it defends us from the billions of organisms we come into contact with every day.
But sometimes the immune system has trouble knowing what counts as an invader and what doesn’t. While a healthy immune system knows which cells of the body belong to the body and which do not, diseases can arise that make it difficult for immune cells to know who to attack.
Instead of fighting the enemy, they turn on their allies and start to destroy the very body that they’re supposed to protect. This is called an autoimmune disease and describes what happens in systemic lupus erythematosus, more commonly known as lupus.
What Is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect any organ of the body including the skin, joints, heart, kidneys, lungs, nervous system and many others. As immune cells attack the body, inflammation, scarring, and permanent damage ensue, leading to worsened function and sometimes even organ failure.