Lupus Awareness

What is lupus?

May is Lupus Awareness Month

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body's immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs. Lupus is characterized by periods of illness, known as flares, and periods of remission when symptoms can temporarily disappear. The cause of lupus is not fully understood, but it's believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and possibly hormonal factors.


1.5 million Americans have some form of Lupus.

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2-3X more African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American women are affected by lupus than Caucasian women.

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Understanding Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells. Lupus is difficult to diagnose for many reasons, one being that its symptoms mimic other diseases. Even the most distinctive sign of lupus, the butterfly rash, is not present on all individuals with lupus.


There are 4 types of lupus:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE):

The most common type of lupus. This may be mild or severe. SLE is what people refer to when they use the term “lupus.”

Discoid Lupus:

This type of lupus mainly affects the skin, causing rashes. Round sores may be observed on the face or scalp. Sometimes, this is also referred to as chronic cutaneous lupus, with “cutaneous” referring to the skin.

Drug-Induced Lupus:

This is a more rare type of lupus and typically resolved when medication is terminated. Common medications that may cause this form of lupus include hypertension, arrhythmia, or tuberculosis medications.

Neonatal Lupus:

This is a rare type of lupus and is not considered a true form. Symptoms will typically resolve by the time the baby turns 6 months old. More severe cases may exist but can typically be detected and treated early.

History of Lupus

  • It is believed that Hippocrates was the first to describe symptoms of lupus in 460-375 BC
  • Herbernus of Tours was the first to apply the term lupus to a skin disease in 916 AD
  • The word “lupus” is Latin for “wolf”- a term coined in the 13th century by physician Rogerius who used it to describe the facial lesions which resembled a wolf’s bite
  • Today, research and modern technology have provided further information on lupus in areas such as genetics, immunology, and environmentally

Symptoms and Diagnosis

As previously mentioned, no two cases of lupus look the same.


Most people with lupus will experience flares where they will observe the symptoms of the disease, and other times where they are symptom-free.
Fatigue, fever, joint pain, bluing of extremities when cold or stressed, skin lesions, shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches/ confusion, and butterfly rash are some of the most commonly seen symptoms.


Diagnosis of lupus takes 6 years on average. No single test is able to detect lupus to date. Tracking symptoms, knowing your family history, yearly physicals, blood and urine tests, and a skin/ kidney biopsy can all help your doctor diagnose you.

Living with Lupus

Certain actions may be taken to help individuals with lupus maintain a high quality of life.

Reduce Stress

Stress is known to be a potential trigger for flares. This is thought to be caused by its activation of the immune system, which exacerbates symptoms.


Have a Support System

Having friends and family around to aid during times of pain, fatigue, or even for reminders to take medicine or as a way to get one’s mind off of living with lupus can greatly improve an individual’s quality of life.

Support system


Though lupus cannot be cured, there are ways to relieve the pain and discomfort from flares.


Medication differs on a case-by-case basis. Some common medications that may be prescribed include NSAIDS to treat pain and swelling, immunosuppressants to help control the immune system, and antimalarial drugs to help with joint and skin symptoms.


Get Checkups

Going to see your doctor regularly can help manage the symptoms, adjust treatment and medications as necessary, and monitor the kidneys.



Live-streamed classes

Fitness/Wellness Classes

Join the GatorCare Wellness Team Monday-Thursday at 12 PM for a 15-minute live-streamed fitness or wellness class. Each day focuses on a different aspect of fitness and wellness, including cardio, strength training, meditation, and stretching. All fitness levels are welcome, and no equipment is needed!

LIve-streamed classes

Fitness class


Looking for a fun way to get active? Join Zumba, the ultimate dance fitness party! Zumba boosts your energy by combining cardio, muscle conditioning, balance, and flexibility. Zumba is free to UF Health Shands and UF employees. Classes take place at UF Health Professional Park (3300 SW Williston Rd, Gainesville, FL) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 PM – 6:15 PM in room D102 (The Swamp). Sign up for a fun-filled workout!


Educational Resource

Support Network

The Lupus Foundation of America works to greatly accelerate lupus research and push scientific boundaries to improve life now for people living with lupus. On their website, there are a wide variety of resources, support groups, and research studies for individuals of all ages.

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Any Florida BLue Member 18+

Next Steps Health Coaching

Experience individualized health coaching with the Florida Blue Next Steps Health Coaching program. Health coaching is free for all Florida Blue members who are ages 18+ and is available through phone and email with a Registered Nurse Certified Health Coach.
During these one-on-one sessions, discuss health and wellness topics that matter to you.


Open to everyone

Walking Challenges

GatorCare hosts walking challenges for UF and UF Health employees (and family members!) via an online step-tracking platform called Walker Tracker. Using Walker Tracker makes it easier for you to track your daily steps and even compete against your coworkers and family to encourage you to reach your step goals. Walker Tracker can be accessed on a computer browser or via an app that is downloadable to your personal cell phone. You can sync your wearable activity-tracking device or you can manually enter your steps into the platform.

May WC

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