What is SLE? Systemic lupus erythematosus is chronic illness having different symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue, joint pain, sores on the skin, and problems with the kidneys, spleen, and other organs. It is an autoimmune disorder with unknown cause. The disease can be mild to severe and life threatening. Because of the various abnormalities of the immune system attacking the healthy cells and tissues, there will be sudden lupus attacks called “flare ups” and remissions.
Who Can Get SLE?
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a disease that can affect almost anyone. Celebrities like pop idol Michael Jackson, award-winning journalist Charles Kuralt, actress Mary Elizabeth McDonough, American model Mercedes Scelba-Shorte and many others have been diagnosed with lupus erythematosus.
Ninety percent of women between 20 to 50 years of age are at risk of SLE. African Americans are three times at risk to systemic lupus erythematosus have than Hispanics and Asians. Caucasians are less likely to have lupus than native Americans. Geographically, SLE is more common in Central and Southern Africa than the West part. Between America and Europe, incidence of lupus is more in America. It is still a question whether it is due to environment or genetic factors.
Genetic cause is higher if patient have close relatives or siblings with lupus disorders. However no specific genes have been identified to cause the disease.
Patients taking up hydralazine, isoniazid, methyldopa, and procainamide are at risk of developing lupus symptoms; stopping such medications may also stop the disease.
How is SLE Diagnosed?
Because SLE is considered a “great imitator” of other disorders, it is not easy to diagnose SLE without a medical history, physical examination and blood tests. Here is a short list of examinations your doctor may asked you to undergo before he confirms that you’ve got SLE:
- Antibody tests like antinuclear antibody (ANA) panel
- Chest X-ray
- Kidney biopsy
The disease can affect or alter the diagnosis of other diseases from the following test results:
- Antithyroglobulin antibody
- Antithyrois microsomal antibody
- Complement cpomponents (C3 and C4)
- Coomb’s test-direct
- Kidney Function blood tests
- Liver function blood tests
- Rheumatoid Factor
How Is SLE Controlled
Most people are afraid of autoimmune disorders especially systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. It is a disorder that has no cure but symptoms can be controlled using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to treat joint inflammation in arthritis, corticosteroid creams to treat skin rashes and antimalaria drug hydroxychloroquine. Severe lupus can be controlled by taking high-dose corticosteroids or medications to decrease the immune system response or cytotoxic drugs or drugs that stop cell growth.