View All Arthritis Types There are many types of lupus. The most common is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a chronic autoimmune disease, which means the body attacks and damages its own tissues. As a result, inflammation can occur in the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels and the nervous system. The condition can vary in severity. A person may experience active periods, commonly known as flares or flare-ups, and times where there is decreased activity or even inactivity (remission).

SLE affects about one in every 1,000 Canadians. Men, women and children can all be diagnosed with lupus but it is far more common in women (nine times more women than men are diagnosed).

Other types of lupus include discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) and sub-acute cutaneous lupus (SCLE), where skin rashes and sun sensitivity are the primary symptoms. Some people with skin  lupus (cutaneous) also develop systemic lupus but most do not.

 View All Arthritis Types
Facts on lupus
What are the symptoms of lupus?
How is lupus diagnosed?
Body parts affected by lupus
Risk factors

Why is treatment for lupus so important?

There are many treatments that can help you manage the symptoms of lupus. Treatment is based on the type of symptoms and their severity. You can live well with lupus, but a treatment tailored to you is important. Regular check-ups with your health-care provider(s) are necessary, so that you (and they) can detect any early warning signs of a flare, leading to earlier and more effective treatments.

Managing Lupus

Each person’s pattern of lupus is unique. However, most people with lupus can look forward to leading a regular life if they follow the advice of their doctor(s), take medication(s) as prescribed and seek help for new symptoms or medication side effects.
Controlling flares is important in the day-to-day management of lupus. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is essential. This includes a nutritious diet, exercise, keeping an ideal body weight, not smoking, getting enough sleep, wearing sunscreen and keeping stress levels down.
Additionally, medications are generally needed to bring lupus symptoms under control. The goal of prompt treatment is to avoid permanent tissue damage. For more information on medication, see page <OV>.
SLE presents an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes due to inflammation related to the disease. It may also increase your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. These comorbidities (two or more diseases existing at the same time in the body) are more common in SLE sometimes due to treatment such as prednisone. For these reasons, be sure to check your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar regularly. Young women with SLE also require regular Pap tests as abnormal Pap tests are more common in SLE.
Sun exposure
Physical activity
Healthy eating
Corticosteroids and nutrition
Complementary therapy
Arthritis medications are designed to control a disease, slow its progression, and to help manage pain. There is a wide range of options – with new ones coming on the horizon – so understanding all possible treatments is not easy. 

These medications can be very complex, so you are encouraged to ask for in-depth explanations from your health care team – including pharmacists, who are an excellent source of information. 

To explore this area of treatment, The Arthritis Society has developed a comprehensive expert guide that delivers detailed information on medications used to treat arthritis.

Explore the Arthritis Medications A Reference Guide

The optimal treatment is what is best in each individual case – so speak with your doctor and/or pharmacist about what kind of medications are most appropriate for you.

Educational Programs 

The Arthritis Society provides a range of in-person workshops and online programs, all with a specific focus in mind. They include chronic pain management, overcoming fatigue, understanding your health-care team, symptom checkers, and more. Participants learn new information and skills, and for in-person workshops, can share ideas and experiences with others.

Explore arthritis workshops and courses


Discover information you can trust, because it’s based on evidence and vetted by experts, in The Society’s resource area. Learn about each disease, possible treatments, self-management, lifestyle issues, and so much more.

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Evidence-based content to help you learn about the disease, treatments and self-management.