SLE (Systemic lupus erythematosus) : Overview
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease. In this disease, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs.
The cause of autoimmune diseases is not fully known.
SLE is more common in women than men. It may occur at any age. However, it appears most often in people between the ages of 15 and 44. The disease affects African Americans and Asians more often than people from other races.
Symptoms vary from person to person, and may come and go. Almost everyone with SLE has joint pain and swelling. Some develop arthritis. SLE often affects the joints of the fingers, hands, wrists, and knees.
To be diagnosed with lupus, you must have 4 out of 11 common signs of the disease. Nearly all people with lupus have a positive test for antinuclear antibody (ANA). However, having a positive ANA alone does not mean you have lupus.
The health care provider will do a complete physical exam. You may have a rash, arthritis, or edema in the ankles. There may be an abnormal sound called a heart friction rub or pleural friction rub. Your provider will also do a nervous system exam.
Diagnosis: Tests used to diagnose SLE may include Antinuclear antibody (ANA), CBC with differential, Chest x-ray, Serum creatinine, Urinalysis.
There is no cure for SLE. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms. Severe symptoms that involve the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs often need treatment from specialists.
The outcome for people with SLE has improved in recent years. Many people with SLE have mild symptoms. How well you do depends on how severe the disease is.