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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a disease that leads to long-term (chronic) inflammation.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs.
The underlying cause of autoimmune diseases is not fully known from a medical perspective. In the Alternative healthcare field it is understood to be caused by an allergy to your own blood. Your Immune System ends up attacking the blood and anywhere the blood goes.
SLE is much more common in women than men. 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.
SLE may also be caused by certain drugs.
Symptoms vary from person to person, and may come and go. Almost everyone with SLE has joint pain and swelling. Some develop arthritis. The joints of the fingers, hands, wrists, and knees are often affected.
Other common symptoms include:
Chest pain when taking a deep breath
Fever with no other cause
General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
Sensitivity to sunlight
Skin rash -- a "butterfly" rash in about half people with SLE. The rash is most often seen over the cheeks and bridge of the nose, but can be widespread. It gets worse in sunlight.
Swollen lymph nodes
Other symptoms depend on which part of the body is affected:
Brain and nervous system: headaches, numbness, tingling, seizures, vision problems, personality changes
Digestive tract: abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting
Heart: abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
Lung: coughing up blood and difficulty breathing
Skin: patchy skin color, fingers that change color when cold (Raynaud's phenomenon)
Some people have only skin symptoms. This is called discoid lupus.
Exams and Tests
To be diagnosed with lupus, you must have 4 out of 11 common signs of the disease.
Your doctor will do a physical exam and listen to your chest. An abnormal sound called a heart friction rub or pleural friction rub may be heard. A nervous system exam will also be done.
Tests used to diagnose SLE may include:
Antibody tests, including antinuclear antibody (ANA) panel
You may also have other tests to learn more about your condition. Some of these are:
Antithyroid microsomal antibody
Complement components (C3 and C4)
Coombs' test - direct
Kidney function blood tests
Liver function blood tests
Consulting with a Holistic Chiropractor who is trained to treat SLE and other Auto-Immune Diseases is important. Having an evaluation to determine if you are allergic to your own blood would be prudent. And if you are, developing a well-rounded, multi-faceted approach to restoring health to your body's Immune Recognition System would be vital. SLE does not have to be a life-time problem and having the evaluation is a no lose proposition.
There is no cure for SLE from a Medical perspective. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms with life-time treatment using medication. Often times the medications come with side-effects that may be worse than the symptoms of the disease. Severe symptoms that involve the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs often need treatment from specialists.
Mild forms of the disease may be treated with:
NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, for joint symptoms and pleurisy
Corticosteroid creams for skin rashes
An antimalaria drug (hydroxychloroquine) and low-dose corticosteroids for skin and arthritis symptoms
Treatments for more severe lupus may include:
High-dose corticosteroids or medications to decrease the immune system response
Cytotoxic drugs (drugs that block cell growth). These medicines are used if you do not get better with corticosteroids, or if your symptoms get worse when the stop taking them. Side effects from these drugs can be severe, so you need to be monitored closely if you take them.
If you have lupus, it is also important to:
Wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen when in the sun
Get preventive heart care
Stay up-to-date with immunizations
Have tests to screen for thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)
Taking suppressive medications that create side-effects and other health concerns is important to consider when choosing to go forward with care.
Counseling and support groups may help with the emotional issues involved with the disease.
Medical Outlook (Prognosis)
The outcome for people with SLE has improved in recent years. Many people with SLE have mild symptoms. How well you do depends on how severe the disease is.
The disease tends to be more active:
The first years after diagnosis
People under age 40
Many women with SLE can get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby. A good outcome is more likely for women who receive proper treatment and do not have serious heart or kidney problems. However, the presence of SLE antibodies raises the risk of miscarriage.
Medicines Two Choices for You
Alternative Treatment Outlook (Prognosis)
When treated using Total Body Modification (TBM) full resolution of the condition can be achieved. Considering this form of care is warranted if you choose to avoid the medications and their complications.
Some people with SLE have abnormal deposits in the kidney cells. This leads to a condition called lupus nephritis. Patients with this problem may go on to develop kidney failure and need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
SLE can cause damage in many different parts of the body, including:
Blood clots in the legs or lungs
Destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia) or anemia of chronic disease
Fluid around the heart endocarditis, or inflammation of the heart (myocarditis)
Fluid around the lungs and damage to lung tissue
Pregnancy complications, including miscarriage
Severely low blood platelet count
Inflammation of the blood vessels
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of SLE. Call your health care provider if you have this disease and your symptoms get worse or a new one occurs.
Disseminated lupus erythematosus; SLE; Lupus; Lupus erythematosus; Discoid lupus
Ruiz-Irastorza G, Ramos-Casals M, Brito-Zeron P, Khamashta MA. Clinical efficacy and side effects of antimalarials in systemic lupus erythematosus: a systematic review. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010;69:20-28.
Crow MK. Etiology and pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2012:chap XX.
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