Patients & Supporters


Systemic lupus erythematosus, referred to as SLE or lupus, is a chronic (long-term) disease that causes inflammation — pain and swelling. It is sometimes called the “great imitator,” because of people often confuse lupus with other health problems due to its wide range of symptoms.

In addition to affecting the skin and joints, it can affect other organs in the body such as the kidneys, the tissue lining the lungs (pleura) and heart (pericardium), and the brain. Most patients feel fatigue and have rashes, arthritis (painful and swollen joints) and fever.

Lupus flares vary from mild to serious. Most patients have times when the disease is active, followed by times when the disease is mostly quiet — referred to as a remission. Yet, there is much reason for hope. Improvements in treatment have greatly improved these patients’ quality of life and increased their lifespan.

Read or download our lupus fact sheet.

Watch this ten-part video series for an overview of lupus.


Video series topics:

    1. Types of lupus and signs & symptoms
    2. Lupus flares
    3. Health disparities in lupus
    4. Patient-physician relationship
    5. Fatigue in lupus and the importance of adequate rest
    6. Pain and pain management for people with lupus
    7. Lupus fog, a common term for the difficulty in focusing and memory loss that affects some people with lupus
    8. Depression
    9. Physical appearance and self esteem
    10. Diet and exercise

This educational resource on lupus and health disparities was developed and produced by The Lupus Initiative® in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, The Lupus Initiative Consortium and a host of experts in rheumatology, health disparities and lupus research – many of whom are named below. Others, not named here, and members of The Lupus Initiative Consortium, provided feedback at every stage of development which was integral to the quality of these materials. We hope you will use and share them liberally.

Lupus What You Should Know: Patient DVD

Contributors and Editors

Cristina Drenkard, MD. Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Emory University School of Medicine, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health.

S. Sam Lim, MD, MPH. Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Emory University School of Medicine.

Kim Schofield. Emory University School of Medicine, Grady Hospital Lupus Clinic.