Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
(Lupus; SLE; Lupus, Systemic)
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. It inflames:
- Other connective tissue and organs
It causes the immune system to make antibodies that attack the body's healthy cells and tissue.
The cause of lupus is unknown. Researchers believe it may be a combination of:
These risk factors increase your chance of developing lupus. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
- Sex: female to male ratio: 10:1
- Age: childbearing age (20-45 years)
- Race: African American, Native American, Asian, and Hispanic
Symptoms can be mild or very severe. For some people, only part of the body (eg, skin) is affected. For others, many parts are affected. Though symptoms can be chronic, they can flare up and get better on and off.
- Swollen and/or painful joints
- Skin rashes over areas exposed to sunlight (especially on the nose and cheeks)
- Extreme fatigue
Common Lupus Rash Sites
Other symptoms may include:
- Hair loss]]>
- Chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- Kidney inflammation
- ]]>High blood pressure]]>
- ]]>Anemia]]> or other blood disorders
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- ]]>Raynaud's phenomenon]]>
- Ulcers in nose or mouth
- Swollen glands
- Inflamed heart, heart vessels, or membrane surrounding the heart
- Blood clots
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical and family history, and perform a physical exam. The diagnosis is based on symptoms, especially for young women. No single test can determine if you have lupus. But, a number of blood tests for specific antibodies can confirm diagnosis.
Treatment depends on symptoms.
Medicines for mild symptoms:
- Aspirin]]> or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—to relieve joint pain
- ]]>Acetaminophen]]> (eg, Tylenol)—to relieve joint pain
or chloroquine—to relieve joint pain, fatigue, balding, and skin rashes
- Note: Regular eye exams are advised while on these medicines.
- Topical corticosteroids—to treat skin rashes
- ]]>Dehydroepiandrosterone]]> (DHEA)—a hormone medicine that has minimal benefit
Medicines for severe symptoms include:
- Oral and intravenous corticosteroids to control and limit inflammation in kidney, brain, lung, and heart, as well as in cases of severe ]]>anemia]]>
- Immunosuppressive drugs to suppress the body's autoimmune system
- Mycophenolate, azathioprine, and ]]>cyclophosphamide]]> for kidney disease or other life- or organ-threatening conditions
- ]]>Rituximab]]> for refractory disease
You cannot prevent lupus because the cause is unknown.
To prevent flare-ups of symptoms:
- Schedule regular check-ups.
- Treat any and all infections quickly and vigorously.
- Avoid sun exposure and wear sunscreen]]> and ]]>protective clothing when outdoors]]> .
- Eat a healthful diet, one that is ]]>low in saturated fat]]> and rich in ]]>whole grains]]> , fruits, and vegetables .
- ]]>Limit emotional stress]]> .
- ]]>Get adequate rest]]> .
- Exercise moderately (as much as your condition allows) with your doctor's permission.
- Call your doctor if you think you will have a flare-up.
- Avoid oral contraceptives, especially if you have had a blood clot.
Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.
Lupus Research Institute
Lupus Foundation of Ontario
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Symptoms. Lupus Foundation of America website. Available at: http://www.lupus.org/webmodules/webarticlesnet/templates/new_aboutintroduction.aspx?articleid=74&zoneid=9 . Accessed June 26, 2008.
12/4/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Hartkamp A, Geenen R, Godaert GL, Bijl M, Bijlsma JW, Derksen RH. Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone on fatigue and well-being in women with quiescent systemic lupus erythematosus. A randomized controlled trial. Ann Rheum Dis. 2009 Oct 22. [Epub ahead of print]
Last reviewed October 2009 by ]]>Jill D. Landis]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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