Celebrity Selena Gomez’s recent kidney transplant due to her battle with lupus has sparked increased curiosity about the complex disease.
Fans of the pop princess flocked to the Internet on Thursday to learn more about lupus after seeing photos posted on Instagram showing Gomez and television actress Francia Raisa in hospital beds. Raisa donated a kidney to her friend Gomez.
Lupus was the No. 1 search term on Google on Thursday.
But for those who still want to know more, here are five things you should know about the disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans. The following facts are compiled from the New York-based Lupus Research Alliance.
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1. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mimic those of other diseases, including swollen and stiff joints, fatigue, unusual hair loss, fever over 100 degrees, skin rashes, and pale or purple fingers from cold or stress.
2. More than 90 percent of people diagnosed with lupus are women, mainly between the ages of 15 to 44. Women of color are two to three times more at risk for lupus than white women.
3. Lupus is a serious disease because it weakens your body’s immune system by creating antibodies that attack organs, including the kidney, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin and joints. It is also a leading cause of premature cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and stroke among young women.
4. Lupus is difficult to diagnose. There is no single test to determine if someone has lupus, but there are several lab tests of blood and urine along with clinical assessment that can help make a diagnosis.
5. Although there is no cure or even known causes, doctors and researchers are making progress on treatments, and those developments are encouraging.