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What is systemic lupus erythematosus?




When a person has lupus, their immune system, which is supposed to protect their body, turns against itself. For this reason, is known as an autoimmune disease. It is called 'systemic' meaning that it can affect several different body parts including the lungs, joints, skin, heart, blood vessels, brain, and kidneys. It generally first affects people between the ages of 15 and 45. 90 percent of people with lupus are women, and Asians and blacks are more likely to get the disease than other ethnicities.

Since there is no cure for lupus, doctors develop treatment plans with their patients to deal with the disease. A variety of drugs are used, but all have negative side effects. As a result, doctors try to prescribe minimum amounts of drugs to the patients so that they will not have ‘flares’ – times when their symptoms escalate and the disease becomes highly active. Doctors may prescribe either over the counter of prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Antimalarial drugs are also used, even though there is no relationship between lupus and malaria. Corticosteroids are also used to counter inflammation, but are known to have bad side effects.

There are actually several different kinds of lupus, but most of the time when people speak about lupus, they are referring to systemic lupus erythematosus. The other kinds of lupus are:

Discoid lupus erythematosus is a skin disorder in which the patient gets a raised red rash. It will mostly show up on the head and scalp, but will also show up elsewhere. The rash may become scaly and thick and might leave scars. The rash can last for days or years.

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus are skin lesions that are the result of sun exposure. They do not cause scarring.

Drug-induced lupus is caused by medications such as antiseizure, blood pressure, antibiotics and antifungals, thyroid, and contraceptive pills. The symptoms are similar to SLE, but they go away when the drug is stopped.

Neonatal is rare and affects newborns. It is caused in part by autoantibodies in the mother's blood These babies at birth will have liver problems, a skin rash, and low blood counts. They gradually go away over several months. It is important for women with SLE or other related autoimmune disorders to be under a doctor’s care during pregnancy.

Read more detailed information on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus including symptoms, treatment, diagnosis and personal support.




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