Systemic lupus erythematosus or lupus is an auto-immune system disorder that can affect the joints, skin, blood vessels and organs. In an autoimmune disorder, the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues. This disease is common among women who are African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American.
Systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE affects any part of the body or organs. Depending on which part is affected, there are many types of lupus.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus affects multiple parts of the body such as the skin, blood, nervous system, kidneys, heart, joints, and lungs.
- Discoid lupus erythematosus affects the skin with rash on the face, neck or scalp. The symptoms of discoid lupus include ulcers in the mouth or nose and sensitivity to light (photosensitivity). A biopsy on the rash is done to confirm discoid lupus.
- Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus is related to discoid lupus which causes skin sores when body parts are exposed to sun. It is non-scarring and non-atrophic dermatosis.
- Drug-induced lupus are caused by certain medications like hydralazine and procainamide. Symptoms usually disappear when medication is stopped.
- Neonatal lupus is lupus that affects newborns of women with systemic lupus. Their infant will develop other lupus symptoms such as heart defects, skin problems or problems with the liver.
Lupus is a mysterious illness because doctors have not specifically pointed to its cause because lupus can mimic symptoms of other disorders. Although genetics is one cause but still doctors have not identified the causal gene. There are several other underlying causes to lupus that are hard to identify such as pathogens (virus or bacteria) or drug reaction.
Diagnosing lupus can only be made initially with ANA (antinuclear antibody) test result. However, the ANA result only say a little about the extent of your sickness. When you visit your doctor, he will require further tests to confirm that you have lupus.
Here are some symptoms that can help you identify if you might have lupus:
- Painful or swollen joints
- Muscular pain
- Fever with no known cause
- Red rashes on the face or “butterfly rash”
- Chest pain when taking a deep breath
- Hair loss
- Pale or purple fingers or toes
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Swelling sensation in legs or around eyes
- Mouth ulcers
- Swollen glands
Some less common symptoms are also indications of lupus.
- Anemia (a decrease in red blood cells)
- Dizzy spells
- Feeling sad
Lupus is treatable using immunosuppressant but permanent cure has not been discovered yet. However, survival rates among lupus sufferers have increase over the years. Learning about what lupus is and how to live with this disease will help you a lot in your healing.