Know the basics
What is systemic lupus erythematosus?
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a disease that causes inflammation in connective tissue and can damage several organs. SLE occurs when there is problem with immune system and it attacks the body. It can affect joints, skin, lungs, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, nervous system, and blood cells. SLE may also lead to Raynaud’s phenomenon, which causes spasms in blood vessels and pain and discoloration in the fingers, toes, ears, and nose
How common is systemic lupus erythematosus?
SLE affects about 1 in 2000 people, five times more women than men, especially for women who are pregnant or during menstruation; it is most often diagnosed in people 15 to 40 years old. African American and people of Asian and Hispanic ancestry get SLE more often than Caucasians.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus?
Symptoms depend on which organ is involved and usually are:
- Joint pain and swelling or stiffness, usually in hands, wrist and knees.
- Having a rash on sun exposed parts of the body, often the face (cheeks and nose)
- Raynaud’s phenomenon makes fingers change color and become painful when exposed to cold.
- Pleurisy (inflammation of the lining of lungs), which can make breathing painful, with shortness of breath.
- Affected kidneys may lead to high blood pressure and kidney failure.
SLE may affect memory and mood and cause stress or confusion.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
There are many diseases related to immune system disorder but SLE is the most common one. You should see your doctor if you have a unexpected rash, long term fever and pain in any organs and fatigue.
Know the causes
What causes systemic lupus erythematosus?
The cause is unknown, but hereditary and environmental factors may increase the risk of having SLE. People who are often exposed to the sun or live in environments that more likely exposed to virus, or often have stress are more at risk of this disease. Sex and hormone is also part of the cause. Many researchers believe that hormone estrogen plays a role in the formation of disease.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for systemic lupus erythematosus?
Certain factors may increase your risk of developing SLE:
- Your sex: Lupus is more common in women.
- Regular sunbathing or exposure to sunlight.
- Medications: Lupus can be triggered by certain types of anti-seizure medications, blood pressure medications and antibiotics. People who have drug-induced lupus usually see their symptoms go away when they stop taking the medication.
- Age: Although lupus affects people of all ages, it’s most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40.
Not having risk factors does not mean you can not get hamstring strains. These factors are for reference only. You should consult your doctor for more details.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is systemic lupus erythematosus diagnosed?
The doctor can make a diagnosis from a medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. X-rays may be done.
Laboratory tests include erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), complete blood cell count (CBC), antinuclear antibody (ANA) and urinalysis. The ESR measures inflammation. The CBC counts blood cells and platelets.
The doctor may order an anti DNA test, which is more specific for SLE. The doctor may suggest seeing a rheumatologist (specialist in joint problems)
How is systemic lupus erythematosus treated?
Treatment depends on symptoms and which organs are involved. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often given first.
In addition, the doctor may also prescribe prednisone, which works quickly.
If they don’t help enough, disease-modifying medicines can slow the disease. These include hydroxychloroquine, methotrexate, azathioprine, and cyclophosphamide.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage systemic lupus erythematosus?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with systemic lupus erythematosus :
- Don’t smoke.Smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and can worsen the effects of lupus on your heart and blood vessels.
- Eat a healthy diet.A healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Sometimes you may have dietary restrictions, especially if you have high blood pressure, kidney damage or gastrointestinal problems.
- Get regular exercise.Exercise can help you recover from a flare, reduce your risk of heart attack, help fight depression and promote general well-being.
- Limit sun exposure.Because ultraviolet light can trigger a flare, wear protective clothing — such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants — and use sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 55 every time you go outside.
- Get adequate rest.People with lupus often experience persistent fatigue that’s different from normal tiredness and that isn’t necessarily relieved by rest. For that reason, it can be hard to judge when you need to slow down. Get plenty of sleep at night and naps or breaks during the day as needed.
- Follow doctor’s instruction
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/332244-overview. Accessed July 18, 2016.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus http://www.healthline.com/health/systemic-lupus-erythematosus#Overview1. Accessed July 18, 2016.
Systemic lupus erythematosus https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000435.htm?PHPSESSID=356535a123c3da6973068c00377a1fd1. Accessed July 18, 2016.