Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of joints, tendons, skin, blood vessels and other connective tissue, and organs. SLE causes the immune system to produce antibodies that attack the body's healthy cells and tissue. Of all the forms of lupus, SLE is the most common and most well-known.

  • Causes

    The cause of SLE is unknown. It is likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

  • Definition

    Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of joints, tendons, skin, blood vessels and other connective tissue, and organs. SLE causes the immune system to produce antibodies that attack the body's healthy cells and tissue.
    Of all the forms of lupus, SLE is the most common and most well-known.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is based on your signs and symptoms. Your doctor will also rule out other health conditions that have symptoms similar to SLE. It may take some time to gather all the necessary information for a diagnosis.

    Some tests include:

    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests

    • Imaging is done with an
      MRI

  • Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent SLE since the cause is not known.

  • Risk Factors

    SLE is more common in women aged 20-45 years old. It is also more common in people of African American, Native American, and Hispanic descent.

    Other factors that increase your chance of developing SLE include:

    • Family history
    • Celiac disease

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms can be mild or very severe. For some people, only part of the body, such as skin, is affected. For others, many parts are affected. Though symptoms can be chronic, they can flare up and get better on and off.

    Common symptoms may include:

    • Extreme fatigue
    • Swollen and/or painful joints
    • Fever without signs of infection
    • Skin rashes over areas exposed to sunlight, especially butterfly shaped rash over the nose and cheeks
    Common
    SLE

    Rash Sites
    Lupus rash
    Facial butterfly rash is hallmark of SLE.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Other symptoms may depend on the area of the body that is affected:

    • Affected skin may become sensitive to light, have hives or red or purple rashes, or have hair loss
    • Affected muscles may become stiff and weak
    • Affected stomach and intestines may cause nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
    • Affected brain and nerves may lead to psychiatric disorders, such as depression, seizures, and nerve pain and numbness


    SLE may cause complications during pregnancy. There may be a flare-up of symptoms, kidney problems, or
    pre-eclampsia
    . There is also an increased risk of
    premature birth
    ,
    stillbirth
    ,
    miscarriage
    , or growth problems wiht the baby during pregnancy.

  • Treatment

    SLE is not curable, but it can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. You may also need treatment for
    issues
    caused by SLE.

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options depend on your symptoms.