Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematosus, often abbreviated to SLE or lupus, is a systemic autoimmune disease (or autoimmune connective tissue disease) that can affect any part of the body.  As occurs in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body’s cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage. It is a Type III hypersensitivity reaction caused by antibody-immune complex formation.

SLE most often harms the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, and nervous system. The course of the disease is unpredictable, with periods of illness (called flares) alternating with remissions. The disease occurs nine times more often in women than in men, especially in women in child-bearing years ages 15 to 35, and is also more common in those of non-European descent. (adapted from wikipedia)


Image Source: Color Atlas of Pediatric Dermatology Samuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard Kristal Copyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. (Link)

 

Eleven criteria have been established for the diagnosis of SLE:

  • Malar (over the cheeks of the face) “butterfly” rash
  • Discoid skin rash: patchy redness that can cause scarring
  • Photosensitivity: skin rash in reaction to sunlight exposure
  • Mucus membrane ulcers: ulceration of the lining of the mouth, nose or throat
  • Arthritis: 2 or more swollen, tender joints of the extremities
  • Pleuritis/pericarditis: inflammation of the lining tissue around the heart or lungs, usually associated with chest pain with breathing
  • Kidney abnormalities: abnormal amounts of urine protein or cellular elements
  • Brain irritation: manifested by seizures (convulsions) and/or psychosis
  • Blood count abnormalities: low counts of white or red blood cells, or platelets
  • Immunologic disorder: abnormal immune tests include anti-DNA or anti-Sm (Smith) antibodies, falsely positive blood test for syphilis, anticardiolipin antibodies, lupus anticoagulant, or positive LE prep test
  • Antinuclear antibody: positive ANA antibody testing

The treatment of SLE is directed toward decreasing inflammation and/or the level of autoimmune activity. Persons with SLE can help prevent “flares” of disease by avoiding sun exposure and by not abruptly discontinuing medications.  (source medicinenet)

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