Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) is a disease that can damage many parts of the body, such as the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. You can't catch lupus from another person.
If you have lupus you will have periods of illness (flares) and periods of wellness (remission).
Lupus occurs when the immune system, which normally helps protect the body from infection and disease, attacks different parts of the body.
We know that many more women than men have systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). In addition, lupus can run in families, but the risk that a child or a brother or sister of a patient will also have lupus is still quite low.
Although lupus usually first affects people between the ages of 15 and 45 years, it can occur in childhood or later in life as well.
Each person with systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) has slightly different symptoms that can range from mild to severe. You may have symptoms in only one or in many parts of your body. Symptoms may also come and go over time.
Some of the most common symptoms of lupus include:
Other symptoms could include:
No one completely understands what causes systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). Studies suggest that a number of different genes may determine your risk for developing the disease.
Some environmental factors also appear to play a role in lupus. In particular, scientists are studying the effects of sunlight, stress, hormones, cigarette smoke, certain drugs, and viruses.
Diagnosing systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) can be difficult and may take months or even years. Although there is no single test for lupus, your doctor may do the following to diagnosis you with the condition:
Treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) have improved dramatically in recent decades, giving doctors more choices in how to manage the disease. Because some treatments may cause harmful side effects, you should immediately report any new symptoms to your doctor. You should also talk to your doctor before stopping or changing treatments.
Treatments for lupus include:
NSAIDs are used to treat joint or chest pain or fever. Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are available over the counter, whereas other NSAIDS are available by prescription only.
Antimalarials prevent and treat malaria, but doctors have found that they also are useful for treating fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, and inflammation of the lungs caused by lupus. These drugs may also prevent flares from recurring.
Corticosteroids strong inflammation-fighting drugs, may be taken by mouth, in creams applied to the skin, by injection, or by intravenous (IV) infusion (dripping the drug into the vein through a small tube). Because they are potent drugs, your doctor will seek the lowest dose required to achieve the desired benefit.
Immunosuppressives restrain an overactive immune system and may be prescribed if your kidneys or central nervous systems are affected by lupus. These drugs may be given by mouth or by IV infusion. The risk for side effects increases with the length of treatment.
It reduce the number of abnormal B cells thought to be a problem in lupus.
It may improve symptoms, although research has not shown whether they help treat the disease. Examples include:
* Special diets. * Nutritional supplements. * Fish oils. * Ointments and creams. * Chiropractic treatment. * Homeopathy.
In many cases you may need to take medications to treat problems related to lupus, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or infection.
Most people will see a rheumatologist for their systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) treatment. A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in rheumatic diseases (arthritis and other inflammatory disorders, often involving the immune system). Clinical immunologists (doctors specializing in immune system disorders) may also treat people with lupus. As treatment progresses, other professionals often help, including:
Dealing with a long-lasting disease like systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) can be hard on the emotions. You might think that your friends, family, and coworkers do not understand how you feel. Sadness and anger are common reactions.
Besides working with your doctor to determine a treatment plan, there are a few things you can do to help you live with lupus:
Although pregnancy in women with lupus is considered high risk, most women with mild to moderate lupus can have healthy pregnancies. Regular care and good nutrition during pregnancy are essential. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
Research shows that birth control pills do not increase the risk for severe flares among women with lupus. As a result, doctors are increasingly prescribing oral contraceptives to women with inactive or stable disease.