Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) also called Lupus is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s defense (the immune system) attacks its own organs and tissues in the body. The inflammation that lupus provokes can impact the skin, joints, blood, and organs (such as kidneys, heart, lungs, and others). Doctors can help to find a suitable treatment that will decrease the number of flare-ups and lessen the symptoms.

What is Lupus?

A disease that causes inflammation throughout the body is called lupus. If you experience rash, pain, skin changes, hair loss, or vision problems, you should immediately contact your doctor.

Lupus Types

One of the most common types of lupus is that in which an individual experiences inflammation throughout the body. Check below other lupus types:

  • Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus – This lupus type affects the skin only.
  • Drug-induced Lupus – Some people may experience lupus as a side effect of a certain medication. In most cases, it is temporary and disappears when you interrupt using that medicine.
  • Neonatal Lupus – In some cases, babies are born with this autoimmune condition.


In most cases, the symptoms are different among people because it depends on the severity of the condition, existing health conditions, weight, age, and others. Commonly symptoms develop slowly and can reach so severe as to negatively affect your daily routine. Check below the most common lupus symptoms:

  • Joint, muscle, or chest pain
  • Rashes
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen glands
  • Swelling in the arms, legs, or face
  • Confusion
  • Blood clots
  • Dry eyes

In some circumstances, lupus can provoke other health conditions. For example:

  • Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart disease
  • Anemia
  • Seizures
  • Mental disorders (such as depression)
  • Photosensitivity (sunlight sensitivity)
  • Kidney disease


However, researchers do not know the exact cause of lupus. Check below some factors that may provoke lupus:

  • Genetic Factors – An increased risk of lupus may take place due to certain genetic mutations.
  • Hormones
  • Environmental Factors – Factors such as pollution can also increase the risk of this autoimmune condition.
  • Health History – Smoking, stress, and other autoimmune diseases may also trigger lupus.

Risk Factors

This health condition may occur in anyone. However, some people are at higher risk. For example:

  • Women or people assigned to females at birth (AFAB), especially those who are aged between 15 and 44 years old
  • Black people
  • Hispanic people
  • Asian people
  • Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and First Nations people
  • Pacific islanders
  • Those who have a lupus family history


Usually, physicians to diagnose this condition will order you to do some tests and perform a physical examination. In addition, they may also ask you about symptoms and medical and family history. Check below some tests:

  • Blood Tests to verify the function of the body’s defense (immune system)
  • Urinalysis (it is done to check your pee for infections)
  • Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) Test (those who experience lupus have some antibodies that show their body’s defense being overactive)
  • Biopsy (this test involves a small sample of your kidney or skin tissue sent to the laboratory)


Commonly, physicians prescribe a combination of medicines to lessen the symptoms and treat this autoimmune disease. For example:

  • Hydroxychloroquine – A disease-modifying antirheumatic medicine (DMARD) used to relieve lupus symptoms.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – These are nonprescription medications used to decrease symptoms and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroids – The most common corticosteroid medicine is Prednisone. It is used to lessen inflammation.
  • Immunosuppressant Drugs – These medications are used to decrease the immune system function, which helps to prevent tissue inflammation and damage.

Furthermore, you may need treatment for those conditions that provoke lupus. For example hypertension (high blood pressure), osteoporosis, or anemia. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.


Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevent this condition because researchers do not know the exact cause. However, you can prevent lupus flare-ups. Check below some tips:

  • Avoid sun exposure – Do not spend too much time in the sun because it may lead to certain unpleasant symptoms. However, if you go outside it is advised to wear sun-protective clothing and use sunscreen (such as SPF 50).
  • Stay Active – Joint pain and stiffness can go away if you are staying active. For example, walking, biking, swimming, yoga, and tai chi are the best methods to exercise and avoid serious stress on the joints.
  • Protect your mental health and get enough healthy sleep – Getting enough sleep and managing stress are effective methods to prevent flare-ups in people with lupus.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is lupus a curable health condition?

This autoimmune condition cannot be cured but you can find with your healthcare professional treatments that will help to reduce inflammation and lessen other symptoms.

When should I visit my physician?

In case you notice any of the following symptoms, consult a doctor at once. Examples include severe pain, shortness of breath, and if you think you are experiencing a myocardial infarction. Consult with your doctor for additional information.

What is the life expectancy of a person with lupus?

In most cases, approximately 80-90% of people with lupus can expect to live a normal life span. However, someone can die from this autoimmune disease. Ask your healthcare professional if you have any questions.

What foods can worsen lupus?

  • Commercial baked goods
  • Fried foods
  • Red meat
  • Animal fat
  • Processed meat products
  • High-fat dairy (including cream, cheeses, butter, whole milk, ice cream, and others)
  • Creamed soups and sauces

Avoiding these foods can prevent some symptoms.

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