Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects several different organs. Autoimmune diseases are characterized by the body’s immune system attacking the body instead of attacking foreign substances in the body. This causes severe inflammation that further damages the organs. It is marked by periods of flares and remissions.
Women tend to be affected much more than men. African-American are also affected in higher numbers than Caucasians.
There are actually four types of lupus: systemic lupus erythematosus, discoid lupus erythematosus, drug-induced lupus erythematosus and neonatal lupus.
Lupus can affect so many different organs it can be difficult to diagnosis because the symptoms can be so varied. Some cases of lupus are slow and progressive while others are sudden.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type that is expressed in patients. SLE affects several different organs in the body, such as the skin, kidneys, brain, blood, hearts or lungs.
Discoid lupus erythematosus, also called cutaneous lupus, affects only the skin and no other organ systems. The rash, which is circular in nature, is usually limited to the face, neck and scalp of the body.
Drug-induced lupus erythematosus is induced in a patient by taking certain medications. There is a genetic predisposition in the patient because not all people taking that medication suffer from lupus while on the medication. The symptoms usually subside once the medication is discontinued.
Neonatal lupus affects newborn babies because antibodies get passed down from the mother to the newborn. The symptom shows up as a rash that can last for month on the skin of the baby.
American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has developed clinical criteria of eleven different symptoms that impact different areas of the body to help in the diagnosis process. If a patient has four or more symptoms they could be diagnosed with SLE. There are also laboratory blood and urine work that supports the diagnosis as well.
There are three common conventional pharmaceutical treatments for SLE, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-malarial drugs and corticosteroids.