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Lupus erythematosus, also called lupus, is a disease. It is chronic, which means it does not go away. The immune system is made up of white blood cells in your body that fight off disease. Lupus makes these white blood cells think that the healthy cells of the body around them are diseased, so they end up attacking healthy parts of the body. Lupus can be deadly. Lupus causes swelling and tissue damage, and can attack any part of the body. It most commonly affects the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys and the brain/nervous system. Some symptoms include: fatigue, fever with no cause, hair loss, mouth sores, sensitivity to sunlight, a skin disease, and Raynaud's syndrome. There is treatment for lupus, called immunosuppression, which is medicine that stops the white blood cells from damaging healthy cells for a while. After a while, this medicine wears off, and then the white blood cells go back to hurting healthy parts of the body again. For the disease of lupus, there is no cure that stops the white blood cells from attacking healthy parts of the body forever, but doctors are not giving up on finding a cure.
Lupus takes its name from the Latin word "lupus", meaning wolf. This is because a lupus-caused rash on a person's face makes the person's face look like the face of a wolf. In the United States alone, there may be 270,000 to 1.5 million (1,500,000) people with lupus. Worldwide, it is estimated (not known for sure, but a good guess) that over 5 million (5,000,000) people living with lupus.[source?] The disease mainly affects young women, but men can be affected as well.