Lupus, what is it and how it affects you.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus often abbreviated to SLE or lupus is a chronic autoimmune connective tissue disease that can affect any part of the body. As occurs in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body’s cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage.
SLE most often harms the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, and nervous system. The course of the disease is unpredictable, with periods of illness (called flares) alternating with remissions. The disease occurs nine times more often in women than in men, especially between the ages of 15 and 30, and is more common in those of non-European descent.
SLE is treatable through addressing its symptoms, mainly with cyclophosphamides, corticosteroids and immunosuppressant’s; there is currently no cure. SLE can be fatal, although with recent medical advances, fatalities are becoming increasingly rare. Survival for people with SLE in the United States, Canada, and Europe is approximately 95% at five years, 90% at 10 years, and 78% at 20 years.
Signs and symptoms
SLE is one of several diseases known as “the great imitators” because it often mimics or is mistaken for other illnesses. SLE is a classical item in differential diagnosis, because SLE symptoms vary widely and come and go unpredictably. Diagnosis can thus be elusive, with people suffering unexplained symptoms of untreated SLE for years. Common initial and chronic complaints include fever, malaise, joint pains, myalgias, fatigue, and temporary loss of cognitive abilities. Because they are so often seen with other disease, these signs and symptoms are not part of the diagnostic criteria for SLE. When occurring in conjunction other signs and symptoms, however they are considered suggestive.
As many as 30% of sufferers have some dermatological symptoms (and 65% suffer such symptoms at some point), with 30% to 50% suffering from...