The body’s immune systems job is to sense foreign invaders and fight them off to help you stay healthy. But sometimes the immune system cannot tell the difference between what is you and what is foreign, causing your body to essentially attack itself. This is called an auto-immune disease. There are many different types, causes, symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments for auto-immune diseases. It is important to know about these diseases because they are becoming more and more common today. One of the most common autoimmune diseases is systemic lupus erythematous (Teitel).
Systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) is an autoimmune disease categorized by a chronic inflammation of many tissues in the body. People that have SLE produce abnormal antibodies in their blood. These are called autoantibodies, which mistakenly attack healthy tissue. SLE most commonly effects the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, and the nervous system. With SLE effecting so many parts of the body and people, scientists and doctors are still trying to figure out the cause of this disease (Stöppler).
The cause for SLE is still unknown. Studies have shown SLE to be more prevalent in women than men. It usually occurs in people from the ages of ten to fifty. It is also more common in people with African American and Asian descent. Even though scientists are still not sure what SLE is caused by, they have discovered many triggers. Viruses, fatigue, stress, genetics, sunlight, smoking, chemicals, hormone replacement, and oral contraceptives are the main triggers for SLE. This disease goes through periods of flare ups and periods of remission. People will go through periods that may last for years without any serious symptoms. The symptoms of SLE widely differ from person to person.
SLE can develop slowly or suddenly appear. The symptoms are different for every person and will appear at different times. The butterfly rash is one of the most well-known symptoms because you can see it unlike other symptoms. It is a red rash that covers the bridge of the nose and the cheeks with a shape similar to butterfly wings. This rash can also appear on other parts of the body or appear when the skin is exposed to the sun. Joint pain in the fingers, wrists, ankles, knees, and hips is also common. Other symptoms include fever, extreme fatigue, weight-loss, loss of appetite, nausea, chest pain, easy bruising, menstrual irregularities, dry eyes, sores in the mouth and nose, brittle hair, and anxiety. With the wide range of symptoms, SLE can be difficult to diagnose (Simon).
“There are many challenges to reaching a lupus diagnosis. Lupus is known as "the great imitator" because its symptoms mimic many other illnesses. Lupus symptoms can also be unclear, can come and go, and can change,” says the Lupus Foundation of America (Medical Review Board). In order...