What Is Systemic Lupus?

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Systemic lupus is oftentimes a misdiagnosed disorder because lupus symptoms imitate the signs and symptoms of other diseases. The very first sign of lupus is painful joints accompanied by swelling of affected areas like the toes, hands and arms which is very similar to rheumatoid arthritis. It is very important to consult your doctor so that you will be given proper diagnosis and treatment.

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder which results to inflamed or damaged body tissues. This means that the body’s immune system is self-destructing!  It is attacking or destroying the healthy cells and tissues in the body.

Lupus is systemic because it can affect many parts of the body such as the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. However, lupus symptoms in many patients vary depending on the affected tissue or organ.

Types of Lupus

There are various types of lupus depending on which system or organ is affected. The most common type affecting many organs in the body is systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly called SLE. It is also the most difficult of the all kinds of lupus. Drug- induced lupus is controllable when the drug taken that triggered lupus is discontinued. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus or skin lupus is characterized by  sores all over the body part that has been exposed to the sunlight. Discoid lupus erythematosus is easily identified by the butterfly rash on the face or red and scaly rash in other parts. Neonatal lupus can affect newly born infants with mothers who are also lupus-positive. However, infants can finally outgrow the disease and be lupus-free after a few months.

Causes of Lupus

Lupus or SLE has no known cause but major researches are being undertaken in order to find out the specific cause or gene responsible for lupus. Most researches are looking into the genetic predisposition of an individual who has developed systemic lupus. Environmental factors which are considered to trigger lupus are viruses, exposure to chemicals, or sunlight. Lupus flares or bouts may also worsen when patient is under stressful situations.

READ Environmental Factors, Toxicants and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus Signs and Symptoms

A list of signs and symptoms will help you identify if you are suffering from systemic lupus or from other disorders. The common symptoms of lupus include painful or swollen joints and muscle pain, low grade fever, red rashes on the face region, chest pain when deep breathing, unusual loss of hair, Raynaud’s phenomenon, photosensitivity, swelling (edema) in legs or around eyes, oral ulcers, swollen glands, and extreme fatigue.

Lupus Diagnosis

To diagnose systemic lupus, visit your doctor and he will conduct a physical examination and thorough medical history. The information you will provide is vital in identifying your illness. To confirm that you have systemic lupus or rule out other causes for your lupus symptoms, several laboratory tests will be required by your doctor. Some of these tests are the antinuclear antibody (ANA), anti-DNA, anti-Sm, anti-RNP, anti-Ro (SSA),  anti-La (SSB) and anticardiolipin antibody. Skin biopsy and kidney biopsy may also be required if you manifest skin lupus and lupus nephritis, respectively.

Lupus Treatments

As there is no cause, specific cure for lupus is also unavailable. However, immunosuppresants are used to stop the immune system from attacking healthy tissues.

Systemic lupus is not easy to detect. A cooperative treatment procedure can be suggested by medical practitioners handling lupus – related complications. Going to the right doctor will facilitate your treatment. Here is a list of doctors to approach when you have systemic lupus:

  • Nephrologists treat kidney disease
  • Cardiologists specialize in the heart and blood vessels
  • Hematologists specialize in blood disorders
  • Endocrinologists treat problems related to the glands and hormones
  • Dermatologists treat skin disease
  • Neurologists are doctors who are specialists  in disorders of the nervous system