Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is the most common form of lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body. In SLE, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy tissues and organs, leading to inflammation and damage. It can sometimes cause serious complications like kidney failure, seizures, or even death.
Lupus can affect people of any age, gender, or ethnicity but is most common in women between 15 and 45.
The signs and symptoms vary widely and may mimic those of other diseases, making diagnosis difficult. The most common symptoms are:
- Aching, swollen, or painful joints
- Constant fatigue
- Fever above 100°F
- Skin rash
- Sensitivity to the sun and other lights
- Hair loss
- Oral ulcers
- Malar rash (a “butterfly”-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose)
The exact cause of lupus is unknown, and doctors are still studying what may trigger or lead to the disease. It is believed to be a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and hormonal changes.
How is SLE Diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will typically start with a family history to see if lupus runs in your family. Then, they will want to discuss any symptoms you have experienced and perform some lab tests. These tests look for low blood cell counts, anemia, and other abnormalities.
The doctor may also do an antinuclear antibody (ANA) test. This test looks for antibodies — proteins in your body that defend against disease — that could indicate you have an autoimmune disease. People with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus usually test positive for ANAs.
Treatment Options for SLE
There is no known cure for SLE, but early diagnosis and treatment can manage the condition and prevent long-term organ damage. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and immunosuppressant drugs can help. These medications can prevent symptom flares, alleviate inflammation, pain, and swelling, and safeguard against organ damage.
Triggers that may cause or exacerbate SLE include infections, stress, exposure to sunlight, and certain medications. Individuals with SLE should maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get enough rest, and avoid stress. They should also protect themselves from sunlight by wearing protective clothing and sunscreen.
Unfortunately, lupus is unpredictable, and the way it affects you can change over time. Although challenging, most people can live productive lives with proper treatment and management. Working closely with your healthcare provider is crucial for creating a care plan that works for you.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), it’s important to schedule an appointment with our Rheumatology team at SMC Physicians today for proper diagnosis and personalized treatment. Early intervention and ongoing management can help control symptoms, prevent organ damage, and improve your quality of life.
Conditions We Treat
We provide ultrasound-guided arthrocentesis (joint injections) of both steroids and gel injections such as Orthovisc and Synvisc.
We offer a state-of-the art private infusion center at each location, offering the following medications and more:
Our Rheumatology Locations: