What is systemic lupus

erythematosus?
The immune system normally fights off dangerous infections
and bacteria to keep the body healthy. An autoimmune
disease occurs when the immune system attacks the body
because it confuses it for something foreign. There are many
autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus
erythematosus (SLE).

The term lupus has been used to identify a number of
immune diseases that have similar clinical presentations and
laboratory features, but SLE is the most common type of
lupus. People are often referring to SLE when they say lupus.

SLE is a chronic disease that can have phases of worsening
symptoms that alternate with periods of mild symptoms.
Most people with SLE are able to live a normal life with
treatment.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, at least 1.5
million Americans are living with diagnosed lupus. The
foundation believes that the number of people who actually
have the condition is much higher and that many cases go
undiagnosed.
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Part 2 of 8

which is called a “butterfly rash”  hair loss  anemia  blood-clotting problems  fingers turning white or blue and tingling when cold. Part 3 of 8 Recognizing potential symptoms of SLE Symptoms can vary and can change over time. which is known as Raynaud’s phenomenon . Common symptoms include:  severe fatigue  joint pain  joint swelling  headaches  a rash on the cheeks and nose.

Part 4 of 8 Causes of SLE The exact cause of SLE isn’t known. but people with lupus often have family members with other autoimmune conditions. Lupus symptoms are also symptoms of many other diseases. . Genetics The disease isn’t linked to a certain gene.Other symptoms depend on the part of the body the disease is attacking. but several factors have been associated with the disease. Your doctor can run tests to gather the information needed to make an accurate diagnosis. If you have any of these symptoms. or the skin. which makes diagnosis tricky. the heart. see your doctor. such as the digestive tract.

more research is still needed to prove this theory. Environment Environmental triggers can include:  ultraviolet rays  certain medications  viruses  physical or emotional stress  trauma Sex and hormones SLE affects women more than men. Part 5 of 8 How is SLE diagnosed? . However. Women also may experience more severe symptoms during pregnancy and with their menstrual periods. Both of these observations have led some medical professionals to believe that the female hormone estrogen may play a role in causing SLE.

Your doctor will do a physical exam to check for typical signs and symptoms of lupus. which may occur in the mouth or nose  arthritis. which is a doctor who specializes in treating joint and soft tissue disorders and autoimmune diseases. . and wrists  hair loss  hair thinning  signs of cardiac or lung involvement. or irregular heartbeats No one single test is diagnostic for SLE. such as murmurs. feet. rubs. which is swelling or tenderness of the small joints of the hands. knees. such as a malar or butterfly rash  mucous membrane ulcers. including:  sun sensitivity rashes. such as antibody tests and a complete blood count  a urinalysis  a chest X-ray Your doctor might refer you to a rheumatologist. but screenings that can help your doctor come to an informed diagnosis include:  blood tests.

Your doctor might recommend eating or avoiding certain foods and minimizing stress to reduce the likelihood of triggering symptoms. The goal of treatment is to ease symptoms. Treatment can vary depending on how severe your symptoms are and which parts of your body SLE affects. Your doctor may also recommend preventive care. such as immunizations . You might need to have screenings for osteoporosis since steroids can thin your bones. The treatments may include:  anti-inflammatory medications for joint pain and stiffness  steroid creams for rashes  corticosteroids to minimize the immune response  antimalarial drugs for skin and joint problems  disease modifying drugs or targeted immune system agents for more severe cases Talk with your doctor about your diet and lifestyle habits. Part 6 of 8 Treatment for SLE No cure for SLE exists.

Possible complications may include:  blood clots and inflammation of blood vessels or vasculitis  inflammation of the heart. that are safe for people with autoimmune diseases and cardiac screenings. or pericarditis  a heart attack  a stroke  memory changes  behavioral changes  seizures . SLE can damage or cause complications in systems throughout your body. Part 7 of 8 Long-term complications of SLE Over time.

or pleuritis  kidney inflammation  decreased kidney function  kidney failure SLE can have serious negative effects on your body during pregnancy. Treatments are most effective when you start them soon after symptoms develop and when your doctor tailors them to you. It’s important that you make . inflammation of lung tissue and the lining of the lung. It can lead to pregnancy complications and even miscarriage. Part 8 of 8 What is the outlook for people with SLE? SLE affects people differently. Talk with your doctor about ways to reduce the risk of complications.

Skin C. All of the above 4. Besides SLE. Which group of people is more likely to have lupus? A. Which part of the body might be affected by lupus? A. Lupus caused by certain medicines C. The immune system makes antibodies against the body's cells B. Find out more about this disease by taking the following quiz. Brain F. African-American women C. ………………………………. which of these are believed to be factors? . 1. Joints B. Most of them are women. The Lupus Foundation of America says that as many as 1. or SLE.5 million Americans have lupus.. Discoid lupus erythematosus B. which of these is another form of lupus? A. It can range from mild to severe. What happens to the immune system of a person who has lupus? A. The immune system doesn’t make any antibodies D. Caucasian men D. It is also called systemic lupus erythematosus. Caucasian women 5. Although the exact cause of lupus isn't yet known. All of the above 2.an appointment with your doctor if you develop any symptoms that concern you. The immune system doesn’t make enough antibodies to fight off illness C. African-American men B. None of the above 3. Heart E. Kidneys D. Take the Lupus Quiz Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that affects the whole body. Neonatal lupus D.

Dislocated shoulders 8. and blood. blood vessels. Get a regular medical checkup C. Estrogen D. Which of these is a common symptom of systemic lupus? A. The immune system makes antibodies against the body's cells. Anti-inflammatory medicine D. Extreme fatigue E. Radiation therapy C. How is lupus treated? A. The correct answer is A. Fever B. All of the above 1. All of the above. With a urine test C. The correct answer is F. All of the above 7. Which is a good strategy for dealing with lupus? A. Exposure to ultraviolet light C. Lupus can also affect the lungs. What happens to the immune system of a person who has lupus? You didn't answer this question. bacteria. Which part of the body might be affected by lupus? You didn't answer this question. These are . Swollen joints D. All of the above 6. digestive system. 2. Surgery B. An inherited gene B. Lung cancer D. and other invaders. Skin rash C. With a skin test D. Which is a complication of lupus? A. the immune system makes autoantibodies. Glaucoma B. Talk with your health care provider D. Inflammation of the kidneys C. In a person with lupus. How is lupus diagnosed? A. A. None of the above 9. With a CT scan B. eyes. A normal immune system makes antibodies against viruses. Know the warning signs of a flare in symptoms B. None of the above 10.

Hispanics. which of these are believed to be factors? You didn't answer this question. The rash usually appears in areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun. But several genes may make it more likely that a person will develop it. The rash spreads across the nose and cheeks. stroke. 5. Inflammation of the kidneys. Lupus is also more common among women who are Asians. The rash areas may become thick and scarred. The correct answer is D. 6. This is when they have the highest levels of estrogen in their body. The rash may last only days. Certain medicines may cause symptoms similar to SLE. The correct answer is B. It causes a raised rash on the face and scalp. Although the exact cause of lupus isn't yet known. Autoantibodies cause inflammation and can harm organs and tissues. medicines. African-American women. Which is a complication of lupus? You didn't answer this question. or of certain American Indian background. SLE is most common in women who are in their childbearing years. Which of these is a common symptom of systemic lupus? You didn't answer this question. Researchers say a combination of factors may cause lupus. The cause may also be different from person to person. Kidney inflammation (nephritis) can interfere with how the kidneys work. Besides SLE. The correct answer is D. 4. No specific gene has been found that causes lupus. . But the symptoms usually go away when you stop taking the medicine. stress. Which group of people is more likely to have lupus? You didn't answer this question. Neonatal lupus is a rare form of lupus. Other factors that are being explored include sunlight. Other complications include an inflammation of the chest cavity (pleuritis). All of these are common symptoms of systemic lupus. All of the above. and viruses. Lupus is much more common among women than among men. All of the above. pneumonia. All of the above.antibodies that attack the person's healthy cells. 3. which of these is another form of lupus? You didn't answer this question. Discoid lupus erythematosus is a form of lupus that affects only the skin. 7. African-American women are 3 times more likely to have lupus than are Caucasian women. or remain for years. according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. It affects newborn infants whose mothers may have SLE or another immune system disorder. The correct answer is B. The correct answer is E.

headache. How is lupus diagnosed? You didn't answer this question. A skin biopsy and blood antibody tests can help in the diagnosis. Working with a trained counselor or support group can help you reduce stress. All of the above. Lupus has no cure. 8. or dizziness that gets worse. None of the above. An accurate health history is important. pain. Talk to your doctor about support groups in your area. and developing a program of exercise and rest. blood vessel inflammation. The correct answer is D. reducing stress. and an inflammation of the heart (myocarditis). But medicines can help most people with the disease can lead active.memory problems. By getting regular checkups. 9. fever. because it can point out symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) are often used to help control pain. swelling. Living with a chronic condition can be difficult. Anti-inflammatory medicine. Typical warning signs of a flare include fatigue. healthy lives. Lupus is difficult to diagnose. He or she may need to adjust your treatment. maintain positive mental health. . and manage your illness. The correct answer is D. rash. Other types of medicine may also be used. How is lupus treated? You didn't answer this question. and fever. you can discuss any changes in symptoms with your healthcare provider. 10. The correct answer is C. Which is a good strategy for dealing with lupus? You didn't answer this question. Your provider can also answer questions you may have about using sunscreens.