Lupus common yet often misunderstood

It’s a centuries old disorder that wasn’t recognized as worthy of research funding until 2005.

Its mark on the body is often invisible. Yet millions around the world suffer from it.

Its symptoms, such as fatigue, confusion, shortness of breath and joint pain, are so common that many of its victims, predominantly women, are written off by society as “lazy or crazy.”

Yet inflammation can easily flare, leading to lengthy hospitalizations, even death. What is this frustrating, covert disease that can take such a toll?

Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE.

“But you don’t look sick,” is the most common refrain that a person with lupus will hear, said Christine Miserandino, a lupus patient and chronic disease advocate who runs a website by the same name butyoudontlooksick.com. As she often points out in her writings and speaking engagements, that well-meaning phrase can backfire.

“Many times, being pretty or not sickly looking makes it harder to validate an illness you cannot see,” said Miserandino.

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