Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), also referred to as “lupus,” is a systemic autoimmune disease that results in inflammation of various parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, and nerves. Patients with lupus have abnormal immune systems that attack the body’s healthy cells and tissues.

The cause of SLE remains unknown. However, researchers believe that various factors can trigger the disease such as:
  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors, such as sunlight (ultraviolet radiation) and stress
  • Viral infection or other types of infectious diseases
  • Use of medication such as methyldopa, procainamide, hydralazine, isoniazid, chlorpromazine, etc.
The severity of symptoms is different in each patient. Some patients will experience symptoms in a specific part of the body, like the skin, while others will feel its effect all over. Though this disease is chronic, symptoms may come and go.
General Symptoms
  • Swollen and/or painful joints
  • Fever
  • Rash on skin exposed to sunlight, especially the nose and cheeks
  • Severe fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Chest pain, difficult breathing, rib cage pain when breathing
  • Inflamed kidneys , bloody or foamy urine
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia or other blood cells abnormality
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Sores at the nose and mouth
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headache, dizziness, seizures
  • Muscle inflammation, muscle weakness
  • Inflammation of the pleura and the heart
  • Chronic dry eyes and mouth
There is currently no treatment to completely cure lupus, but maintaining an appropriate lifestyle and using the right medication with the right dosage and at the right time can manage this disease.

Treatment is dependent on the severity of the condition. If symptoms are mild, medication to alleviate symptoms can be used. If symptoms are severe and affect major organs, immunosuppressant medication may be needed to control the disease. As SLE is a chronic disease, it requires a long term treatment and continuous medication treatment even though there is no active symptoms.
Because the cause of SLE is unknown, there is no way to prevent SLE at present. Patients who already have this disease can prevent the recurrence or worsening of symptoms by doing the following:
  • Regular physical examinations by your doctor and take medication regularly.
  • Infections should be treated quickly and aggressively.
  • Avoid direct sunlight and wear appropriate protective clothing and accessories when outdoors as well as sunscreen with an SPF higher than 55.
  • Eat healthy food. Avoid raw foods to reduce the chance of infection.
  • Manage stress.
  • Get adequate rest.
  • Exercise regularly (or as you are able), with permission from the doctor.
  • See a doctor immediately if symptoms recur.
  • Avoid birth control pills or estrogen replacement as they may cause the disease to flare up.

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