Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the ?

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a name given to a collection of autoimmune diseases in which the human immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissues.

Symptoms of these diseases can affect many different body systems, including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart, and lungs.

Systemic Lupus erythematosus may manifest as a systemic disease or in a purely cutaneous form also known as incomplete lupus erythematosus.

Lupus has four main types:

systemic
discoid
drug-induced
neonatal

Of these, systemic lupus erythematosus (also known as SLE) is the most common and serious form.

A more thorough categorization of lupus includes the following types:

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms vary from person to person, and may come and go.

Almost everyone with lupus has joint pain and swelling. Some develop arthritis. Frequently affected joints are the fingers, hands, wrists, and knees.

Other common symptoms include:

chest pain when taking a deep breath
fatigue
fever with no other cause
general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
hair loss
mouth sores
sensitivity to sunlight
skin rash - a "butterfly" rash in about half people with SLE
swollen lymph nodes

Photosensitivity

Photosensitivity is a known symptom of lupus, but its relationship to and influence on other aspects of the disease remain to be defined.

It is typically believed that Lupus is influenced by multiple genes. Lupus is usually influenced by gene polymorphisms, 30 of which have now been linked with the disorder.

Some of these polymorphisms have been linked very tentatively however, as the role that they play or the degree to which they influence the disease is unknown.

Other genes that are commonly thought to be associated with Lupus are those in the Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) family, which are largely related to healthy functioning of the immune system.

There have been several cases where a single gene influence appears to be present, but this is rare. When a single gene deficiency does cause Lupus, it is usually attributed to the genes C1, C2, or C4.

The influence of sex chromosomes and environmental factors are also noteworthy. Usually, these factors contribute to Lupus by compromising the immune system.

Lupus can develop in any age group with varying results. Typically, the manifestation of the disease tends to be more acute in those affected who are of younger age.

Patients with juvenile onset Lupus in particular, are vulnerable to mucocutaneous (alopecia, skin rash, and ulceration of the mucus membranes) manifestations of the disease more so than any other age group.

Patients with late onset Lupus have a much higher morbidity rate. Nearly 50% of those with late onset Lupus died of their infection. This is most likely due to the age of the patients with late onset Lupus since the manifestation of their disease is much less severe than younger patients.

Women who are of childbearing age are also particularly at risk.

Substantial data has been found to indicate that certain ethnic populations could be more at risk for Lupus Erythematosus, and have a better or worse prognosis.

Treatment consists primarily of immunosuppressive drugs and corticosteroids).

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