Life Expectancy with Lupus

by Sam Malone

Lupus can be described as a chronic inflammatory disease which occurs when your immune system begins to attack the healthy cells, tissues, organs and systems in your body. Anyone can suffer from this autoimmune condition, though it usually affects those between the ages of 15 and 45. This disease causes your immune system to become hyperactive, thereby resulting in problems like swelling, rash, pain, ulcers, fatigue, bruising, headaches, fever and inflammation. Though there are a few distinctive signs and symptoms of lupus, this condition is often hard to diagnose. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition as yet. However, timely and appropriate treatment can control the symptoms and improve the prognosis to a great extent.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, around 1.5 Million people in the US and at least 5 Million people around the world suffer from some form of Lupus. There are four different types of Lupus and these are:

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Discoid (Cutaneous) Lupus
  • Drug Induced Lupus (DIL)
  • Neonatal Lupus

Studies show that SLE accounts for around 70% of all the lupus cases. While this condition can affect people of both genders, it is 10 times more common in women, than it is in men. Unfortunately, lupus can occur in kids and newborns too.

Can Lupus be Fatal?

Yes, in some instances, lupus can be fatal, as it may lead to numerous complications, some of which include:

  • Blood clot formation
  • Lung failure
  • Heart failure or heart attacks
  • Renal failure
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Avascular necrosis (bone tissue death)

Many lupus patients go through mental health problems such as depression, stress, anxiety and low self-esteem. Your risks of cancer and infections may increase significantly if you are suffering from this disease. Certain forms of lupus can affect many organs at the same time.

Fortunately, since the treatment of the disease has become more aggressive and effective in the last few decades, lupus survival rate has increased considerably.

How long do People live with Lupus?

It is difficult to determine the average life expectancy for lupus patients, because the condition is so variable in nature. Most forms of lupus are highly unpredictable.

With proper disease management, many lupus patients can go on to live a normal life span. However, according to around 10% to 15% of the patients die prematurely because of lupus-related complications.

In kids, the prognosis depends on factors like the severity of the disease, the involvement of the internal organs, the symptoms and the success of the treatment. Some children may need a more aggressive form of therapy as compared to others. While most kids with lupus make it well into adulthood, it is not possible to predict how long an individual will survive.

How does one Improve a Lupus Prognosis & Life Expectancy?

It is definitely possible to increase the life expectancy of someone with lupus by following a few healthy lifestyle changes and coping techniques. In case you are suffering from this condition, make sure that you:

  • Schedule regular visits with your doctor
  • Take your medication as prescribed by your health care provider
  • Gather as much support as you can, from your family and friends
  • Follow a diet that contains a high amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Get an adequate amount of rest and exercise on a daily basis
  • Quit any unhealthy practices like smoking or drinking alcohol

These steps can help you manage the condition and may increase your life expectancy with lupus to some extent. However, it is absolutely essential for you to have the condition closely monitored by a doctor at all times.


  1. Schur PH, et al. Diagnosis and differential diagnosis of systemic lupus Erythematosus in adults
  2. Schur PH, et al. Overview of the therapy and prognosis of systemic lupus Erythematosus in adults
  3. Haija AJ, et al. The role and effect of complementary and alternative medicine in systemic lupus Erythematosus. Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America. 2011; 37:47.

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