Systemic lupus is an autoimmune disease. It is a medical term which can be understood simply as auto or “self” and immune or “protected from disease”. However, an autoimmune disorder happens when the immune system acts against the natural process of the body. The immune system sometimes cannot recognize the “self” and produces antibodies that will attack its own healthy cells, tissues or organs. This is what happens in systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. When the immune system attacks its own constituents, it results to inflammation and damage of the cells, tissues and organs. This is the start of autoimmune disorders.
An autoimmune disorder has unknown cause although genetic predisposition is often considered in many cases. Women population are prone to autoimmune disorders specifically those that are African-American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American. Others may be triggered by a viral or bacterial infection when the antibodies or T-cells attack normal cells resembling microorganisms.
There are two types of autoimmune diseases.
- Systemic autoimmune disorders are those that may damage many organs in the body.
- Localized autoimmune disorders affect or directly damage only one organ or tissue.
Sometimes localized autoimmune diseases may not be distinct from systemic diseases because the effects of the latter extend indirectly to other body organs and systems.
Symptoms of autoimmune diseases are not the same depending on a specific disease. There are more than 80 autoimmune disorders. You can refer to the list of autoimmune disorders from the Wikipedia. The common symptoms of autoimmune disorders are fatigue, nausea and unexplained low fever.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing an autoimmune disorder will include a thorough physical check-up, extensive medical history, laboratory tests including antibody and auto antibody tests, too. Inflammation tests will also help make correct diagnosis of a certain autoimmune disease such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
Most autoimmune diseases have no definite cure, but it can be controlled. For example, systemic lupus can be treated using anti-inflammatory, corticosteroids, antimalarial, immuno suppressant and also cytotoxic drugs. Rest, exercise and physical therapy are also helpful. For skin lupus, using sun protection and avoiding exposure to sun will help control any flare.