Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease affecting major systems and organs. Complications may arise needing long-tem treatment.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease affecting major systems and organs of the body and needing long-term treatment in serious cases. Complications of SLE may affect the blood, joints, kidney, liver, lungs and the nervous system.

Risk Factors

It is considered a disease with unknown cause. As an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system attacks the healthy cells and tissues by mistake causing chronic inflammation and the first to be affected are the joints. That is the hard part of having lupus; the immune system that is supposed to protect you from infection and diseases have gone out of control.

However, not everyone can get SLE. It is more common among women than in men. Although babies can also develop the disease from mothers with systemic lupus erythematosus  or SLE, people between the ages of 20 to 50 are prone to it. African Americans and Asians are affected although it can also occur among Hispanics, and the central and West Africans.

Some drugs may also induce lupus disease.


Lupus symptoms are not always the same in two people. However, the first sign of SLE is swelling and joint pain. Rheumatoid arthritis in the fingers, hands, knees and wrists are common symptoms of SLE.

Other noticeable symptoms are the following:

  • Difficulty in breathing accompanied by chest pain
  • Fatigue or general weakness
  • Low-grade fever with no cause
  • Loss of hair
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Irritation to sun rays
  • Malar rash or butterfly rash on the cheeks and bridge of the nose
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes

Complications of systemic lupus erythematosus may affect other parts or systems of the body and may manifest symptoms of the disease such as:

  • Headaches, numbness, tingling, seizures and vision problems including mood or personality changes
  • Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • Abnormal rhythm of the heart
  • Difficulty of breathing and coughing
  • Patchy skin and white and blue fingers when its cold

SLE is known as “great imitator” of other diseases. The signs and symptoms often overlap with other diseases so the only way to check if you really have SLE is to visit your doctor for medical evaluation and for proper treatment.

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