Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What is systemic lupus erythematosus?

The immune system normally fights off dangerous infections and bacteria to keep the body healthy. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks the body because it confuses it for something foreign. There are many autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

The term lupus has been used to identify a number of immune diseases that have similar clinical presentations and laboratory features, but SLE is the most common type of lupus. People are often referring to SLE when they say lupus.

SLE is a chronic disease that can have phases of worsening symptoms that alternate with periods of mild symptoms. Most people with SLE are able to live a normal life with treatment.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, at least 1.5 million Americans are living with diagnosed lupus. The foundation believes that the number of people who actually have the condition is much higher and that many cases go undiagnosed.

Recognizing potential symptoms of SLE

Symptoms can vary and can change over time. Common symptoms include:

  • severe fatigue
  • joint pain
  • joint swelling
  • headaches
  • a rash on the cheeks and nose, which is called a “butterfly rash”
  • hair loss
  • anemia
  • blood-clotting problems
  • fingers turning white or blue and tingling when cold, which is known as Raynaud’s phenomenon

Other symptoms depend on the part of the body the disease is attacking, such as the digestive tract, the heart, or the skin.

Lupus symptoms are also symptoms of many other diseases, which makes diagnosis tricky. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor. Your doctor can run tests to gather the information needed to make an accurate diagnosis.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *