Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can be fatal, though with recent medical advances, fatalities are becoming increasingly rare. It may affect the skin, joints, kidneys, and other organs. Systemic lupus erythematosus involves chronic inflammation that can affect many parts of the body. SLE (lupus) is an autoimmune disease. This means there is a problem with the body’s normal immune system response. Normally, the immune system helps protect the body from harmful substances. Fever occurs in 90% of patients with SLE and is usually caused by the inflammatory process of the disease, not by infection. It is low-grade except during an acute lupus crisis. SLE may be mild or severe enough to cause death.
SLE often begins with a skin rash over the nose and cheeks that is shaped like a butterfly and made worse by exposure to the sun. This may be accompanied by tiredness and joint pains. SLE symptoms may develop slowly over months or years, or they may appear suddenly. Symptoms tend to be worse during winter months, perhaps because prolonged exposure to sunlight in the summer causes a gradual build-up of factors that trigger symptoms months later. SLE is one of several diseases known as the great imitator because its symptoms vary so widely it often mimics or is mistaken for other illnesses. There are an estimated 50,000 people with SLE in the UK. Women are nine times more likely to be affected than men. SLE commonly starts in the teens and 20s.
About 90% of people who have lupus are young women in their late teens to 30s. Older men and women can also be affected. SLE or lupus occurs in all parts of the world but may be more common in blacks and in Asians. Treatment depends on which organs are affected and whether the lupus is mild or severe. Immunosuppressants may be used to relieve symptoms and control the disease, while physiotherapy can help to relieve joint problems. Sun exposure should be avoided and infections treated promptly. Bone marrow transplant autologous stem cell transplants are under investigation as a possible cure. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for fever, arthritis, and headache. Antimalarial drugs for pleurisy, mild kidney involvement, and inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart
Lupus Erythematosus Treatment and Prevention Tips
1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are used.
2. Corticosteroid creams are used to treat skin rashes.
3. Sun exposure should be avoided and infections treated promptly.
4. Immunosuppressants may be used to relieve symptoms and control the disease.
5. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is an antimalarial medication found to be particularly effective for SLE patients.