May is Lupus Awareness Month – a time for everyone to come together to raise awareness of lupus, an unpredictable and sometimes fatal disease, and show support for the estimated 1.5 million Americans and at least five million people worldwide affected by the disease. As part of Lupus Awareness Month activities,World Lupus Day is observed on May 10 — a day when the global lupus community rallies to bring greater attention to this terrible disease.

What is Lupus? Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

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