Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. The inflammation caused by lupus can affect many body systems including the following: joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs. Lupus occurs more frequently in women than in men. There are four different types of Lupus that exist. They are Systemic lupus erythematosus, Discoid lupus erythematosus, Drug-induced erythematosus, and Neonatal lupus. The most common and most serious type is Systemic lupus erythematosus. Previously the outlook for people with lupus was grim, but diagnosis and treatment of lupus has improved quite a bit. With proper treatment, most people can lead happy and active lives. This paper will focus on the diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment of Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
SLE is an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. This leads to long-term (chronic) inflammation. The underlying cause of autoimmune disease is not fully known. It may occur at any age, but appears most often in people between the ages of 10 and 50. African Americans and Asians are affected more often than people from other races. (Makeover, 1997)
The cause of this disease is unknown. Research suggests that the development of autoantibodies may be a result of many different factors including genetic traits, hormonal influences, and immunologic and environmental factors. Environmental influences include exposure to chemicals, ultraviolet light, certain foods, and infections agents. The disease may be exacerbated by hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, and viral exposure. (Gutierrez, 2007)
Diagnosing SLE can be very difficult and can take several months or even years for doctors to put all symptoms together to diagnose it correctly. Lupus is a very complex disease that requires knowledge and awareness on the part of the doctor and good communication from the patient. There is no single test that can determine if a person has lupus. Several laboratory tests can help a doctor confirm the diagnosis of SLE or rule out other causes for the person’s symptoms. The ANA (antinuclear antibody) test is commonly used. This test looks for antibodies that react against the components of the nucleus of the body’s cells. The doctor can also order a biopsy of the kidney’s or the skin if those body parts are affected. The doctor can also order a test for anticardiolipin antibodies. If the person is found to have these than they are at an increased risk for blood clotting and there is an increased risk of miscarriages for pregnant women. Other testing that may be done is a complete blood count, urinalysis, blood chemistries, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate test (a test that measures inflammation). In order for a doctor to diagnose you with SLE, you must have 4 out of 11 typical signs of the disease. SLE may alter the results of the following...