Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

What is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE/Lupus)?
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE/Lupus) is an autoimmune disease. Normally, immune system helps to protect our body from many bad things like infections and cancer. In autoimmune diseases like lupus, one’s own immune system starts attacking its own body. It can occur at any age(mostly 15 to 45 years but can occur in children too). It is seenmore in women than in men.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

What causes SLE / lupus?
The exact cause of SLE is not known. The risk of lupus is associated with what genes are present in one’s body. It has also been found to be associated with environmental factors like sunlight exposure, certain medications, viruses, stress etc. However, in most patients, we don’t find any single gene or environment factor. Mostlikely,it is a combination of many things which causes someone to have SLE.
 
Who suffers from Lupus?
Lupus is about nine times as common in women as in men.
 
Lupus is more common in younger women. Lupus also affects children but only rarely. We don't know exactly why this happens.
 
What are the symptoms of Lupus?
SLE can affect any system or organ of the body. Lupus patients can develop many different types of symptoms.
 
The most common lupus symptoms are,
 
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Skin rashes, which get worse on exposure to sunlight. Many patients have a butterfly type of rash on face.
  • Joint pain, stiffness more in mornings and joint swelling
  • Frequent ulcers (or sores) in mouth or nose
  • Hair fall / loss
  • Get cold hands and feet, which change color to white or blue, especially when exposed to cold
Lupus patients can also have following symptoms or problems,
 
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent fevers without any infections detected
  • Headaches and brain problems (like fits or seizures, mood swings, difficulty to think clearly, sudden psychotic or unusual behavior, stroke or paralysis)
  • Swelling and puffiness of hands, feet or eyes
  • Eye problems – redness, vision problems
  • GMuscle weakness
  • Recurrent miscarriages, blood clots etc.
  • Vomiting, loose stools
  • Passing less urine
It is not possible to list all symptoms of lupus here( this may be deleted). Also, having above symptomsdoesn’t itself mean one has lupus. Many of these symptoms like hair fall, fatigue, oral ulcers, swelling etc. are pretty common in people without having lupus. Lupus experts make sure that a patient is not having these symptoms due to other common causes. Most lupus patients will have a combination of many symptoms and experts will do further tests to confirm diagnosis.
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