SLE Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

 What is systemic lupus erythematosis?

SLESystemic lupus erythematosus is a very long name for a very complicated autoimmune disease that is more commonly known as SLE or lupus.  The word ‘systemic’ means not isolated to one area but rather spread throughout the systems in the entire body. This means that systemic lupus erythematosus can affect nearly every organ system. The skin is no exception, and in fact, may be involved in 70-80% of cases, causing sores, ulcers and/or rashes, this is called cutaneous lupus. Because lupus is a multi-symptom disease, it can take years to properly diagnose.  Lupus is considered a connective tissue disease and will often “overlap” with other such connective tissue diseases such as scleroderma, now called progressive systemic sclerosis, dermatomyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome. This makes diagnosing lupus very complex. It is common that patients will be diagnosed with some of the above connective tissue diseases or other conditions such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome before being properly diagnosed with lupus.

Here are some common lupus symptoms:

Lupus Signs and Symptoms


Diagnosing Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

There is no definitive test for diagnosing SLE.  That being said,  the ANA test is one commonly used to identify whether lupus could be a proper diagnosis. Antinuclear antibodies (ANA)  are eventually found in more than 98 percent of people with lupus. However, some patients test positive for ANA and do not have lupus, while others who test negative for ANA still may have lupus. There is not one test that will determine a lupus diagnosis, rather the physician will take into account 11 different criteria set forth by the American College of Rheumatology when making this determination. These are the following:

  1. Rash on the bridge of the nose and cheeks, often called a butterfly rash
  2. Raised red patches on the skin, called a discoid rash
  3. Sensitivity to sunlight or Photosensitivity
  4. Mouth or nose ulcers
  5. Arthritis
  6. Heart or lung changes
  7. Nervous system changes
  8. Kidney changes
  9. Blood changes
  10. Antibodies in DNA
  11. ANA present in the blood

Systems Affected by SLE

Lupus often affects many different systems in the body, and therefore, if you do have lupus,  the symptoms and signs that you may experience will depend heavily on which part of the body is being affected by the disease, but here is a thorough yet abbreviated list;

What are the treatments for SLE?

In Conclusion

SLE or Systemic Lupus Erythematosis is not easy to say, and even more difficult to diagnose and live with. The patient and medical provider’s goal is to find the most effective treatment plan for each individual patient to manage the symptoms with which they are presenting. This evolves over time through working at maintaining a balance between preventing flares and the potentially life-threatening organ damage they can cause, while maintaining quality of life and minimizing the side effects that can come from various medications.
Although there is currently no cure for lupus, today’s medications can be very effective in helping people with lupus live longer, healthier lives, and new research holds hope for the future.

*All resources provided by Molly’s Fund are for informational purposes only and should be used as a guide or for supplemental information, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. The personal views do not necessarily encompass the views of the organization, but the information has been vetted as a relevant resource. We encourage you to be your strongest advocate and always contact your medical provider with any specific questions or concerns.

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Article by : Karrie Sundbom

Karrie is the Digital Marketing Manager at Molly's Fund and responsible for innovating content for all of Molly's Funds online communications, creating memes and graphics, writing the MFFL Newsletter and main lupus blogs, as well as developing and managing the content for all of our social media platforms. Connect with Karrie on LinkedIn and Google+ .
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