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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Friday, 3 December 2010

SLE is a chronic disease that causes inflammation of connective tissue. It is a multisystem autoimmune inflammatory disease. SLE is the commonest and the most serious type of lupus. 

What causes SLE ?
SLE is believed to be an autoimmune disease, which means that the body's immune system produce antibodies that attacks the own body's healthy organs. Besides, genetic predisposition can be one of the causes. 

What are the risk factors for SLE ?
Females are more likely to get SLE than males. Usually the age of the patient lies between 15-45 years old. SLE is more common in dark races. Besides certain drugs can trigger lupus.

What are the drugs that are associated with lupus ?
The following drugs had been associated with lupus only after long-term use. They are:
Chlorpromazine, Hydralazine, Isoniazid, Methyldopa, Procainamide, Quinidine. 

What are the symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) ?
90% of patients will complain of joint symptoms and arthritis. This can be the earliest manifestation of the disease. Many patients will experience malar (butterfly-shaped) rash like this one:

Eye affection can occur in the form of conjunctivitis, photophobia and blurring of vision. Systemic symptoms like fever, malaise, anorexia and weight loss/gain are usually present. Symptoms include:
Shortness of breath, chest pains, mouth sores, kidney functions affection that can lead to renal failure. 

How is SLE diagnosed ?

To be diagnosed as having SLE, you must have at least 4  of the following 11 items:

1. Malar rash
2. Discoid rash
3. Oral ulcers
4. Photosensitivity
5. Serositis
6. Arthritis
7. Neurologic disease
8. Kidney disease
9. Hematological abnormalities
10. Immunologic abnormalities
11. Positive antinuclear antibodies  

What is the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus ?
There is no definitive cure for lupus till now. Drugs as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids are used to reduce the pain and inflammation. Anti-malarial drugs, as Hydroxychloroquine, had proved to control the symptoms and signs of the disease and can prevent flares. 
Immunosuppressive drugs, as cyclophosphamide, can be used especially when there is kidney affection. This group of drugs must be taken with extreme caution.
A lot of clinical research is being conducted by the use of new emerging drugs that can help treat SLE. Epratuzumab, a humanised IgG1 monoclonal antibody, entered phase III trials after promising results in a smaller study. 

General guidelines for SLE patients:
- Avoid excessive exposure to sun by using sunscreens.
- Exercise regularly.
- Quit smoking and alcohol intake.
- Avoid sulphonamide-containing antibiotics.
- If you are taking immunosuppressive drug, then you must not take a live vaccine.
- At any time, if you experience severe acute symptoms or fever or anginal pains or shortness of breath, immediately call your doctor.

I hope this article was beneficial to you. And i hope you stay healthy and happy forever.Thank you for reading.


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