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.
Symptoms can vary and can change over time. Common symptoms include:
- severe fatigue
- joint pain
- joint swelling
- a rash on the cheeks and nose, which is called a “butterfly rash”
- hair loss
- blood-clotting problems
- fingers turning white or blue and tingling when cold
Other symptoms depend on the part of the body the disease is attacking, such as the digestive tract, the heart, or the skin.Lupus symptoms are also symptoms of many other diseases, which makes diagnosis tricky.
Environmental triggers can include:
- ultraviolet rays
- certain medications
- physical or emotional stress
Sex and hormones
SLE affects women more than men. Women also may experience more severe symptoms during pregnancy and with their menstrual periods.
Treatment for SLE:
No cure for SLE exists. 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. The treatments may include:
- anti-inflammatory medications for joint pain and stiffness, such as these options available online
- 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