Lupus or Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterised by acute and chronic inflammation of various tissues of the body. The illnesses that occur when the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system are known as autoimmune diseases. Lupus is one such ailment.
Lupus is potent of affecting a variety of body parts such as skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints and/or nervous system. When lupus is exclusive to skin diseases, it is called lupus dermatitis while SLE is a condition in which internal organs of the body are involved.
Symptoms may vary substantially from person to person. Many people have fatigue (tiredness), weight loss and mild fever. In addition, one or more of the following may develop.
Joint and muscular pain are common to most sufferers of SLE; though the number of affected areas may vary. The hands and feet tend to be affected most as their joints are small and the pain can flicker from one joint to another. The patients may experience joint stiffness which can get worse in the mornings. Severe arthritis is uncommon but mild joint swelling can be observed.
A lot of people develop the “butterfly rash” which is characterised by a red rash developed over cheeks and nose. A rash may also happen over other skin area exposed to sunlight such as hands and wrists. Sunlight may be a cause of worry for about 6 in 10 people with SLE who can suffer from various kinds of rashes on their skin.
Raynaud’s phenomenon may result from SLE when the blood vessels just under the skin get affected and cause poor circulation of blood in the fingers and toes. Another common sign of SLE is mouth ulcer and hair fall; but only minor hair thinning takes place and not balding.
Anaemia or lack of blood is a symptom of SLE. Other blood problems, such as reduced numbers of white blood cells or platelets (the cells that help the blood to clot), are less common. A tendency to form blood clots is an uncommon complication. Some lymph glands may swell.
Pleura and pericardium are tissues that cover heart and lungs respectively. SLE can cause these tissues to get infected. This can cause pleurisy (pain in the side of the chest) or pericarditis (central chest pain). The actual heart or lung tissue is less commonly affected.
SLE can cause inflamed kidneys in 1 out of 3 people; it can provoke kidneys to leak protein and urine into blood. Unless the disease is severe, this inflammation does not cause problems. Kidney failure can occur at a very advanced stage.
Mental health is commonly affected by SLE and can result into depression and anxiety. Where mild depression is common to the disease, it can also hint at a serious illness you might be going through. One must confide in their doctors about the difficulties he/she is facing to cope with their condition. This will enable your doctor to provide a beneficial treatment. Occasionally, inflammation of the brain can lead to epilepsy, headaches, migraines and other conditions.
At first the symptoms of SLE may be confused with other problems, as there are many possible causes of joint pains and tiredness. Sometimes several symptoms occur together. It is advised to consult a medical practitioner as soon as you experience any such signs or symptoms.
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