Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

It is a chronic autoimmune disease that usually occurs when body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy tissues. It mainly affects the joints, skin, kidneys, brain, and other body organs. The exact cause of SLE is still unknown. Women are more commonly affected with SLE than men at any age. However, it occurs mostly between the ages of 15 to 44 years and more often affects Asians, African, and Americans than people from other races. Vascular disease is more frequent in SLE patients of India and also comes out as the most frequent cause of death.

Potential symptoms of SLE

Symptoms of SLE can vary and change over time. In most people, SLE symptoms started with pain and swelling in joints such as the joints of the hands, fingers, wrists, and knees. Few people may also develop arthritis.

Common symptoms may include:
  • Chest pain during deep breathing
  • Fever and Fatigue
  • Uneasiness, general discomfort, or mild sickness
  • Loss of hair
  • Sores in Mouth
  • Sun Sensitivity and skin rashes
  • Swelling in lymph nodes

  • Other symptoms (as per the affected body system or organs)
    • Digestive system: Abdominal discomfort and pain, nausea and vomiting
    • Central nervous system: Headaches, seizures, tingling, numbness, vision problems, and personality changes
    • Cardiovascular: Arrhythmias or Abnormal heart rhythms
    • Respiratory: Blood with Coughing and breathing difficulty
    • Skin and soft tissue: Colored patches on skin and fingers also known as Raynaud phenomenon.
    • Urinary system and Kidney: weight gain and swelling in legs
    • If a person has shown only skin symptoms, then it is known as discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE).

    Risks and Complications

    In some cases, abnormal deposits in the kidney cells may cause lupus nephritis or kidney failure. So, a patient may require dialysis or a kidney transplant. Most often SLE may be harmful to various body parts that include:

    • Formation of blood clots in arteries and veins of the brain, lungs, legs, or intestines
    • Destruction of RBCs causing chronic anemia disease
    • Inflammation of the heart known as myocarditis or endocarditis and Fluid deposit around the heart tissues called as pericarditis
    • Fluid deposit around the lung tissues may lead to tissue damage
    • Pregnancy complications, including miscarriage
    • Brain Stroke
    • Extremely low blood platelet count
    • Inflammation of the blood vessels
    • SLE may harm an unborn child to cause a pregnancy complication.

    Diagnostic Tests and Examination

    Usually, a complete physical exam is performed to examine skin rashes, arthritis or edema in the ankles, and abnormal heart sounds.
    Various tests performed to diagnose SLE:

    • Antinuclear antibody (ANA)
    • Complete Blood Count (CBC) with differential
    • X-ray of Chest
    • Serum creatinine
    • Urinalysis

    Also, some other tests may be undergone to know more about SLE that include:
    • Complement components (C3 and C4)
    • Direct- Coombs test
    • Cryoglobulins
    • CRP and ESR
    • LFT, KFT, and RF
    • APA and Lupus anticoagulant test
    • Kidney biopsy

    Treatment and Symptoms Management

    Still, there is no permanent treatment known for SLE. So, the basic aim of treatment is just to control the symptoms. However, a specialized treatment is required to control severe symptoms of heart, kidneys, lungs, and other organs.

    Mild symptoms of SLE are treated with medications such as;
    NSAIDs are prescribed to control joint symptoms and pleurisy. In skin and arthritis problems, low doses of corticosteroids for e.g. prednisone are given.

    • Cover whole body with protective clothing, also wear sunglasses and use sunscreen lotion/cream when going outside in the sun.
    • Take all preventive measures for heart care.
    • Keep updated with immunizations.
    • Regularly go for bone thinning test to check osteoporosis
    • Stay away from tobacco and drinking alcohol

    Always remember, SLE affects every individual differently. A treatment will be effective only when it is started as soon as symptoms develop on patient’s body or a doctor tailors it to the patient. Once you find any of the abnormal symptoms that concern you, then immediately consult with our specialist doctors at Shah Hospital.