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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Test

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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease that has protein manifestations and follows a remitting and relapsing course. SLE is characterized by production of unusual antibodies in the blood. It can damage any part of the body from skin, to the joints, to the organs.

The exact cause of SLE is not known, but there are several factors associated with the disease:

  • Genetics / Hereditary – SLE is not linked to a certain gene, but patients with SLE often have family members with other autoimmune conditions
  • Environmental – environmental triggers include ultraviolet rays, certain medications, viruses, physical or emotional stress and trauma
  • Sex and hormones – SLE affects women more than men. Women may also experience more severe symptoms during pregnancy and with their menstrual periods
  • Rashes on cheeks and nose, known as butterfly rash
  • Painful or swollen joints and muscle pain
  • Severe fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Unusual loss of hair
  • Chest pain
  • Anaemia
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Fingers turning white or blue and tingling when cold, known as Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Photosensitivity (sensitivity to sun)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Swelling in legs or around eyes
  • Blood clots and inflammation of blood vessels or vasculitis
  • Inflammation of the heart (pericarditis)
  • Inflammation of lung tissue and the lining of the lung (pleuritic)
  • Kidney inflammation
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Memory changes
  • Behavioral changes
  • Seizures
  • Decreased kidney function and kidney failure

Physical examination

  • Sun sensitivity rashes such as malar or butterfly rash
  • Mucous membrane ulcers which may occur in mouth or nose
  • Arthritis (two or more swollen, tender joints of the extremities)
  • Hair loss and thinning
  • Signs of cardiac or lung involvement, such as murmurs, rubs or irregular heartbeats

No single test is diagnostic for SLE, but screenings can help doctor to arrive at an informed diagnosis

  • Blood tests such as antibody tests, CBC and ESR
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA test)
  • Urinalysis
  • Chest X-ray

There is no permanent cure for SLE. The goal of the treatment is to ease the symptoms. The treatment varies depending on severity of symptoms and body parts affected. The treatment mainly includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications like NSAIDs for joint pain and stiffness
  • Antimalarial drugs for skin rashes and joint problems
  • Steroid creams for rashes
  • Corticosteroids to minimize the immune response
  • Disease modifying drugs or targeted immune system agents for more severe cases

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

i.What are the first signs and symptoms of lupus?+
ii.What are the different types of lupus?+
iii.Who usually gets lupus?+
iv.Can women with lupus have healthy pregnancies?+