Systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE, is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system reacts against specific organs and antibodies. In other words, the body and immune system begin attacking itself and healthy tissue. It can damage ANY part of your body including your joints, kidneys, brain, heart, skin, blood cells, and even your lungs. It is not contagious and you cannot contract this from another person.
Researchers and scientists believe that it develops from a combination of factors such as genetics, hormones, and the environment (especially sunlight in susceptible people). However, not much else is known about the causes of lupus or how it is triggered. Systemic lupus is called the ‘silent killer’ and for good reason. It’s unpredictable and absolutely devastating.
Unless there are physical signs, lupus is extremely difficult to diagnose and there is no cure for it. The symptoms are very similar to other health conditions so it might take multiple tests and even multiple doctors. To diagnose, doctors have to look at everything overall and conduct a series of blood tests. The most important is to conduct antibody tests, especially testing ANA (antinuclear antibody panel) to see if it’s positive or not.
The most common sign/symptom is the “butterfly rash” which occurs over the face on the cheeks and bridge of nose. Other symptoms are: fatigue, chest pain, hair loss, fever, join pain, stiffness and/or swelling, skin lesions from sun exposure, memory loss, etc.
The only treatments available are to reduce and control any symptoms or pain and they depend on the symptoms and the severity. These include: chemotherapy, antimalarial drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, immune suppressants, and combination treatments. The life expectancy of a person living with systemic lupus erythematosus all depends on the severity of the disease, how early or late you were diagnosed, and how it affects your organs.
Lupus is much more common in women than men. It occurs most often in people between the ages of 15 and 40, but can occur at any age. Lupus is also more common in Asians, African Americans, and Hispanics. Just like for cancer or other serious life-threatening diseases, the people having to live everyday with Lupus are just waiting for a miracle to happen and a cure is found… I know I am.
To hear about my story with Systemic Lupus, please click on the links below!
Learn more about Systemic Lupus Erythematosus by visiting www.lupus.org
The more people that know about this cruel disease, the more we can do to help those who suffer from it and spread awareness!
**Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. Please consult a doctor if you have any medical concerns or experience any of the signs/symptoms listed above.