Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue by mistake. The disease that leads to long-term (chronic) inflammation. More than 90 per cent of cases of SLE occur in women frequently starting at childbearing age.
It can affect the skin, joints, kidney, brain, and other organs. It may occur at any age but appears most often in people between ages of 10 and 50 years. African Americans and Asians are affected more often than people from other races.
Symptoms of SLE onset in childhood is much more than the symptoms that are exhibited in adults. Symptoms may vary from person to person and may be temporary. Almost everyone with SLE have joint pain and swelling. Some develop arthritis. The joints of the fingers, hands, wrists, and knees are often affected.
Other common symptoms include
- Chest pain while taking a deep breath
- Fever with no other cause
- General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Skin rash — a “butterfly” rash in about half people with SLE. The rash is most often seen over the cheeks and bridge of the nose but can be widespread. It gets worse when exposed to sunlight.
- Swollen lymph nodes
Other symptoms depend on which part of the body is affected
- Brain and nervous system: headaches, numbness, tingling, seizures, vision problems, personality changes
- Digestive tract: abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting
- Heart: abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
- Lung: coughing up blood and difficulty breathing
- Skin: patchy skin color, fingers that change color when cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
Some people have only skin symptoms. This is called discoid lupus
Even as there is no complete cure for SLE, the goal of treatment is to control the symptoms or onset. Severe symptoms that involve heart, lungs, kidney, and other organs often need treatment from specialists.
If you have lupus, it is also important to:
- Wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen when in the sun
- Get preventive heart care
- Stay up-to-date with immunizations
- Have tests to screen for thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)
Procedures that may be performed in patients with suspected SLE include the following:
- Arthrocentesis (clinical procedure of using a syringe to collect synovial fluid from a joint )
- Lumbar puncture (Also known as the spinal tap, itâ€™s a therapeutic procedure wherein cerebrospinal fluid is collected to confirm meningitis and brain hemorrahage)
- Renal biopsy