Health31 Mar 2010 08:00 am
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder, which occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs (the disease may affect the skin, joints, kidneys, and other organs). Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems, including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs. Symptoms vary from person to person, and may come and go. The condition may affect one organ or body system at first. Others may become involved later. Almost all people with SLE have joint pain and most develop arthritis. Frequently affected joints are the fingers, hands, wrists, and knees. The signs and symptoms of lupus include the following:
General discomfort, uneasiness or ill feeling (malaise);
Joint pain and swelling;
Nausea and vomiting;
Pleurisy (causes chest pain);
Sensitivity to sunlight;
Skin rash — a “butterfly” rash over the cheeks and bridge of the nose affects about half of those with SLE. The rash gets worse when in sunlight. The rash may also be widespread; and
There is no one test to diagnose lupus, and it may take months or years to make the diagnosis. There is no cure for lupus, but medicines and lifestyle changes can help control it. While anyone can get lupus, women are at a much greater risk. Lupus is also more common in African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American women. The exact cause of the disease remains unknown.
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