Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic Lupus Erythemastosus is a chronic (life long), inflammatory, autoimmune disease. SLE is the form of the disease most people are referring to when they say Lupus. It is the most common. The word systemic means the disease can affect the whole body including the skin, joints, tendons, blood vessels, muscles, organs, etc. Each Lupus patient is different some have a more mild form of SLE while others may have severe, life-threatening disease.
While the exact cause is not known, patients with SLE probably have a genetic predisposition as well as environmental triggers. This and all autoimmune diseases tend to run in families. 90% of those with SLE are women and Black People are 3 times more likely to have SLE than Caucasians. Asians and Native Americans are twice as likely as Caucasions.
Systemic Lupus can affect ANY part of the body causing many different symptoms. The most common SLE symptoms are chest pain, fatigue, hair loss, malaise, photosensitivity, unexplained fevers, weight loss or gain, lupus nephritis, pleuritis, shortness of breath, mouth and nose ulcers, arthritis, discoid rash, malar/butterfly rash, and Raynaud's Phenomenon.
Diagnosing Lupus is usually a difficult process. There is no single laboratory test that exclusively proves a Lupus diagnosis. A Lupus diagnosis is usually made after a detailed medical history and examination including many laboratory tests.
There is no cure for Lupus, but by working closely with their physicians most Lupus patients can maintain a fairly normal life. There are some treatments aimed at preventing flares and minimizing disease activity while others are used to treat or relieve symptoms. Treatments include NonSteroidal Anti-Inflammatories, corticosteroids, immunosuppressives, plasmapharesis, and stem cell transplants.
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