34 Illuminating Lupus Statistics to Help the Warriors

Lupus Statistics

Imagine if your body just started attacking itself? Suppose you got ill for no other reason than your body taking you as such. Well, that’s what lupus is all about. In this article of lupus statistics, we’ll mostly be covering Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). There are four kinds of lupus, but the most common type by far is this one.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that convinces your entire immune system to wage war on your own tissue, thinking there was a problem when, in fact, there was nothing wrong to begin with.

The symptoms of lupus include everything from skin rashes, painful joints, and sun sensitivity to organ problems, seizures, and even psychosis. It affects many lives and people affected by this disease often require assistance to perform everyday tasks, lose productivity at work, and spend thousands of dollars on medical treatment.

So, seeing how this disease affects so many people and yet so little is known about it, we’ll be looking at 30 plus shocking statistics and facts about this disease.

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Lupus

  • Lupus affects 5 million people worldwide.
  • 16,000 new lupus cases come out of the US annually.
  • There are 1.5 million people living with lupus in the US.
  • 90% of people suffering from lupus are women.
  • Lupus is far more common in women of color than in caucasian women.
  • 63% of lupus sufferers were initially incorrectly diagnosed.
  • 65% of people living with lupus suffer from chronic pain.
  • 10–15% of lupus patients die due to health problems following the disease.
  • It costs the average lupus patient $6,000–10,000 per year in medical treatment.
  • 66% of people suffering from lupus have lost all or part of their income due to the disease.

General Statistics About Lupus

1. At least 5 million people suffer from some form of lupus.

(Lupus Foundation of America)

Unfortunately, because the disease can be difficult to diagnose, and can go misdiagnosed for years, this number may be lower than the actual number of people afflicted by this disease.

With some more research, there will, hopefully, be a more accurate number in the near future.

2. Lupus usually occurs in people aged between 15 and 44.

(Lupus Foundation of America)

An autoimmune disease most commonly develops in this period of a person’s life. Although, it must be said that according to lupus statistics, it can still develop in children, teens, and older people.

3. According to reports, 16,000 new lupus cases emerge in the US annually.

(Medical News Today)

Currently, the number of people living with lupus in the US is 1.5 million; this is just the number of people who have been properly diagnosed with the chronic autoimmune disease. The actual figures could be far larger if we take into account the people who are left undiagnosed and untreated.

The US is quite high in lupus prevalence by country, but that might just be due to the extensive knowledge (and research) of the disease.

4. 90% of people suffering from lupus are women.

(Lupus Foundation of America)

The majority of patients with lupus are, in fact, women during their most fertile years (15–44). Estrogen is known to play a role in the development of the disease.

5. When the symptoms of lupus are most obvious, it is called a “flare.”

(Lupus Foundation of America)

This is when a person suffering from lupus will experience pain the most.

There is no set time as to how long these flares will last and they can consist of any number of lupus symptoms. These are usually followed by a period of relief where the symptoms are less severe or even non-existent.

6. 20% of lupus sufferers have a parent or a sibling that is also battling the condition.

(World Lupus Day)

Genetics are known to play a part in the occurrence of lupus. It is estimated that 5% of people with a biological parent who suffers from lupus will eventually develop the disease themselves.

7. Lupus is two to three times more common in women of color.

(Lupus Foundation of America)

One in 537 African-American women suffers from lupus in their childbearing years. Lupus statistics by race also shows that women of color suffer from lupus at a much younger age, have more severe symptoms, and are more likely to die from the disease.

8. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease and the symptoms often appear for a period of six weeks or longer. 

(World Lupus Day)

While the period of time is often more than six weeks, these symptoms could last months or even multiple years at a time. It is treatable with certain medications.

Lupus Facts About the Most Common Types

9. There are four categories of lupus, but we generally focus on just one.

(Lupus Foundation of America) (Very Well Health)

These include systemic lupus erythematosus, neonatal lupus, cutaneous lupus erythematosus, and, finally, drug-induced lupus erythematosus.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is by far the most common form of lupus (70%) and therefore when people discuss lupus, they focus primarily on this one. You’ll also find that the majority of the statistics in this article are about SLE.

10. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can affect your organs and more.


Lupus symptoms include skin rashes, fevers, exhaustion, painful joints, sensitivity to sunshine, and more.

More severe symptoms include oral ulcers, arthritis, heart issues, lung issues, kidney issues, psychosis, seizures, as well as immunology and blood cell abnormalities.

11. 10% of people living with cutaneous lupus erythematosus end up with SLE. 

(Medical News Today)

According to statistics, this is correct, yet it is unknown whether these people have always had SLE but only initially showed the symptoms of cutaneous lupus erythematosus.

Lupus Treatment and Diagnosis

12. Almost three-quarters of young Americans don’t know about lupus and its symptoms. 

(Lupus News Today)

In the US, 73% of people aged 18–34 don’t have any knowledge of lupus; that is if they even heard about it at all.

13. Almost half of all lupus sufferers wait four years or longer for a proper diagnosis from a medical practitioner. 

(Very Well Health)

Research shows that 50% of people diagnosed with this chronic autoimmune disease experienced lupus symptoms for four years or longer before receiving the correct diagnosis.

The majority of these people visited three different doctors before being correctly diagnosed with lupus.

14. Around 63% of people suffering from lupus received an incorrect diagnosis in the beginning. 

(Lupus News Today)

The common occurrence of misdiagnosis in lupus is highly likely as it shares the same symptoms as other illnesses.

Doctors often diagnose a patient based on one or a few of the symptoms. This just goes to show that people have to be more knowledgeable on matters like how is lupus diagnosed and what are the most common treatments.

15. 78% of lupus warriors claim to be dealing with it in a positive way. 

(Lupus News Today)

More than three-quarters of lupus patients report that they are able to cope with the symptoms of lupus.

16. 84% of lupus sufferers report that their families are supportive and helpful. 

(Lupus News Today)

A majority of lupus sufferers can rely on their families and aren’t facing this disease all on their own (at least).

17. There are four main types of medications used in treatment.

(Lupus News Today)

The medications used in lupus treatment are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarial drugs (containing hydroxychloroquine), corticosteroids, and immunosuppressants.

The side effects vary from stomach problems and mood swings to heart disease risks.

18. For 65% of lupus patients, chronic pain is the most problematic aspect of the autoimmune disease. 

(Lupus Foundation of America)

Chronic pain can impact a person’s life to the point where they lose most of their productivity at work due to constant pain or because they find it difficult to manage day-to-day tasks.

Statistics Related to Death and Lupus

19. Records of fatalities related to lupus have been rising over the past 20 years. 

(Very Well Health)

That might just be due to more people receiving the correct diagnosis and are therefore being accounted for in the statistics. Nevertheless, according to lupus survival rate statistics, most people live a “normal” amount of time despite the disease.

20. 10–15% of lupus sufferers pass away due to health problems following the disease. 

(Lupus Foundation of America)

Of course, there is continued progress in new diagnosis and methods for managing lupus, so the numbers will hopefully drop even more in years to come.

21. Studies have shown that lupus is in the top 20 causes of death in female patients aged 5–64. 

(Lupus Foundation of America)

Women are more likely to develop lupus than men, so this stat makes sense.

Moreover, lupus statistics by race show that this rate is higher among African-American women and Hispanic women. For the ones between 15–24 years of age, lupus ranks 5th.

22. There were 100 fatalities due to lupus in Florida during 2017.

(Florida Health)

Lupus-related flare-ups resulted in 1,609 visits to the emergency room in the Sunshine State. In addition, there were 763 hospitalizations due to the disease as well.

23. Lupus can cause patients to be at risk of catching other illnesses. 


Lupus can lead to the patient being at risk of developing other illnesses, for example, renal disease, heart failure, blood pressure issues, or cardiovascular problems. It is this that contributes greatly to the lupus mortality statistics.

How Much Can Lupus Cost You?

24. 66% of people suffering from lupus said they lost all or part of their income due to living with the symptoms of lupus. 

(Very Well Health)

Around two-thirds of people suffering from lupus report loss of income due to the disease. The chronic pain and health issues associated with lupus can cause problems with productivity.

25. It costs the average lupus sufferer $6,000–$10,000 annually in medical treatment. 

(Very Well Health)

These lupus statistics, of course, depend on the severity of the symptoms that the person experiences. People with more severe cases of lupus could end up spending thousands of dollars on a monthly basis.

26. Studies show that individuals suffering from lupus lose $8,659 every year due to loss in productivity. 

(Lupus Foundation of America)

This amount is assigned to those of the working age. If you take into account other factors, both indirectly and directly related to living with lupus, that amount can be as large as $50,000.

Interesting Facts About Lupus

27. The spoon tattoo represents lupus and other illnesses that result in chronic pain.


The spoon tattoo, which has increased in popularity thanks to celebrities such as Paris Jackson and Macaulay Culkin, is based on “spoon theory” and has strong ties to lupus.

The theory was conceived by blogger Christine Miserandino as a way to explain the limited amount of energy that lupus sufferers and those with other chronic illnesses live with.

28. Lupus sufferers are called “lupus warriors.”

(Lupus News Today)

The term is meant to empower people with lupus. It makes them feel good about the fact that they’re overcoming many obstacles in order to live their lives as best they can with this vicious disease.

People that have lupus don’t associate with the term “survivor” because it means they’ve won the battle. Lupus is something they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

29. Selena Gomez and Lady Gaga are among the many celebrities who suffer from lupus. 


Selena Gomez is just one of the celebrities who has been outspoken about being a lupus warrior. Others include Lady Gaga, Toni Braxton, Seal, Nick Cannon, Kristen Johnston, and more.

Due to Lupus population prevalence, it’s no wonder there are plenty of famous people who also suffer from this disease.

30. The name “lupus” comes from the Latin word for “wolf.”

(Lupus Foundation of America) (Lupus News Today)

Rogerius, a physician from the 13th century, named the disease after the skin rash appearing on the faces of lupus patients. He claimed that the rash resembled a wolf bite.

That’s why you’ll also find people with wolf tattoos — a way of symbolizing lupus.

Medical Marijuana for Lupus

31. Cannabis in lupus treatment can help reduce bodily inflammation, which is a fairly common symptom.

(The Recovery Village)

What cannabis does is it reduces the levels of interleukin-2 (which causes inflammation) and raises the levels of an anti-inflammatory protein known as interleukin-19.

32. Lupus sufferers don’t have to get high to enjoy relief from symptoms through the use of marijuana. 

(The Recovery Village)

CBD (cannabidiol), which doesn’t have any mind-altering effects, can help ease the symptoms of the chronic autoimmune disease.

How to use CBD for lupus? You can vape it, put it beneath the tongue, take it as a capsule, or eat it in the form of an edible.

33. A new cannabis-based drug is being researched at the moment to deal with lupus prevalence.  

(Lupus Foundation of America)

This study is taking a look at a drug called Lenabasum (JBT-101), which is created via a synthetic cannabinoid and possesses no mind-altering properties whatsoever. The drug is meant to help with painful and inflamed joints experienced by lupus warriors.

Lenabasum is expected to be approved by the FDA and released in 2021. Scientists have different opinions on cannabis and the immune system.

34. There are reports of marijuana interfering with certain drugs in the treatment of lupus.  

(Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus)

That’s why rheumatologists are among the least likely doctors to support the use of cannabis, especially if Neurontin (Gabapentin) was prescribed.

However, 54% of rheumatologists claim that it can be beneficial in the treatment of lupus and 44% are for the legalization of cannabis.

Final Thoughts

Millions of people worldwide have this chronic autoimmune disease. The effects of lupus can be mild to severe. People can lose out on income due to the loss of productivity caused by symptoms of this disease, as well as the daily struggle to complete common tasks due to chronic pain.

What the above lupus awareness facts show us is that it is possible to live a full and healthy life with the disease, but it’s important to have all the facts. Hopefully, more people will become aware of lupus, making it easier to diagnose earlier on.

While not a whole lot of research has been done on the medical benefits of cannabis for lupus warriors, it does contain properties that help with pain and inflammation.

With more studies on lupus statistics being done in the future, we hope that the effects of cannabis on the disease will become more clear.


How many people in the USA have lupus?

0.45% of the population of the US suffers from lupus.

That’s 1.5 million Americans, which means that 1 in 200 Americans has the disease. The majority of these people are women.

(Medical News Today) (Lupus Corner)

What is the financial cost of lupus?

The more damage a person incurs with lupus, the more they will end up paying with regards to healthcare. For example, someone with a bad case of SLE that causes extreme damage will pay almost nine times as much in costs compared to someone who has SLE with only minor damage.

(Healio Rheumatology)

What are the 11 criteria for lupus?

The 11 criteria and lupus signs include the following:

  • A rash on the face, specifically on the cheeks and the nose
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Skin rashes
  • Ulcers in the nose or mouth
  • Neurological issues, including seizures and even psychosis
  • Inflammation in multiple joints due to non-erosive arthritis
  • Blood cell abnormalities, including damaged red blood cells causing anemia, a low count of platelets, and a low count of white blood cells
  • Antinuclear antibodies
  • Immune system attacking healthy cells (immunological disorder)
  • Kidney damage or issues
  • Inflammation in the heart or lungs.

(Lupus Research Alliance)

How long do people live with lupus?

Most people who suffer from lupus go on to live for normal periods of time despite having the disease. So, for the most part, the lupus life expectancy is that of a normal person.

(Very Well Health) (Lupus Foundation of America)

List of Sources:

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