Systemic lupus erythematosus: what is it, symptoms, prognosis for life

Lupus is complex and poorly understood disease that can affect various parts of the body, causing moderate or severe symptoms. The most frequent and severe form of this disease is systematic lupus erythematosus.

What it is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation in different tissues of the body. In lupus the body’s immune system synthesizes antibodies to the cells of your own body, leading to widespread inflammation and tissue damage.

Classification of lupus

There are several basic types of lupus:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most severe type of this disease. SLE can affect almost any organ in the body of the patient, including blood vessels, muscles, joints, digestive tract, lungs, kidneys, heart and Central nervous system.
  • Diskoidnaya lupus – affects the skin, causing a rash on the face, scalp and neck and causing scarring.
  • Lupus caused by drugs, whose symptoms are similar to SLE.
  • Neonatal lupus is a rare disease that affects newborn babies in women with SLE or other autoimmune diseases. In children can be heart diseases, skin rashes, anemia and liver problems. However, remember that in most cases, women with lupus, pregnancy is proceeding normally, and they give birth to healthy babies.

Signs and symptoms of SLE

SLE can cause a wide range of symptoms, depending on affected organs. The most common symptoms are:

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  • Fatigue.
  • Rash especially on the face (cheeks and nose), wrists and hands. The severity of the rash get worse after sun exposure.
  • Pain and swelling in the joints.
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Other signs of SLE are:

  • Fever.
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes.
  • Ulcers on the mucous membrane of the oral cavity.
  • Hair loss.
  • Increase in blood pressure.
  • Headaches.
  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • Pain in the chest.
  • Depression.
  • Dryness in the eyes.
  • The deterioration of memory.
  • Convulsions.
  • Shortness of breath.

The causes of SLE

SLE is an autoimmune disease. Most doctors and scientists believe that this disease has no one cause. It is believed that there are some factors that make people more susceptible to disease and also certain environmental factors which cause the development of SLE in these people.

Close relatives of patients with SLE are more likely to develop disease than the General population. Scientists have discovered a number of genetic mutations that make people more likely to develop SLE. Most of the damaged genes associated with regulation of immune functions. For starting SLE can meet the following environmental factors:

  • Exposure to sunlight.
  • Hormonal changes that occur in women during puberty or pregnancy.
  • Some infectious diseases, such as Epstein-Barr.
  • Smoking.

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Diagnosis of SLE

SLE is difficult to diagnose because the disease has symptoms similar to several other more common diseases. Diagnosis is also complicated by the fact that symptoms can vary greatly among different patients, varying over time. For example, the patient may experience periods of relative calm and periods of exacerbation. To confirm the diagnosis, doctors prescribe the following blood tests:

  • Determination of erythrocyte sedimentation rate.
  • The definition of antinuclear antibodies.
  • Determination of anti-DNA antibodies.
  • Determination of the complement level.
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After identifying the disease, patients need to have regular examination, including determination of the presence of anemia, kidney problems, heart, lungs and other organs. The patient also may need an x-ray, CT or MRI.

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The treatment of SLE

Currently, the treatment of SLE does not exist, but therapy can alleviate the symptoms of the disease. In most cases, treatment involves a combination of independent action and medicines.

Exposure to sunlight can sometimes aggravate SLE, so it is important to protect your skin from the sun. With this purpose, you need to wear clothes with long sleeves, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.
To reduce the pain and anti-inflammatory processes in the body are assigned non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Diclofenac). To eliminate some of the symptoms of SLE is used Hydroxychloroquine is a drug used to treat malaria. It is quite effective in relieving rashes, joint and muscle pain and fatigue.

To quickly reduce inflammation use corticosteroids (Prednisone), but they are prescribed only in severe cases. To suppress the immune system are used immunosuppressants (Azathioprine, Methotrexate, Cyclophosphamide), limiting the defeat of the healthy tissues of the body. New drugs prescribed for severe SLE that is not responding to other therapy are Rituximab and Belimumab.

Complications of SLE

Some people with SLE may experience life-threatening complications. A third of patients develop a serious kidney problems, called lupus nephritis, which is caused by a long inflammatory process in the kidneys. In addition, people with SLE often develop cardiovascular disease, which is associated with inflammation of the heart and arteries. Pregnancy in women with SLE can be associated with development of pre-eclampsia, premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth.

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The prognosis of SLE

Most people with SLE lead active, normal life. The prognosis for life of patients is now much better compared to the past because modern treatment is much more effective. Most patients have mild or moderate symptoms with a low risk to life. But some people SLE can be severe and life-threatening. However, modern immunosuppressive treatment may improve their prognosis.