Systemic erythematic lupus is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is when the immune system attacks the body's own cells. Systemic erythematic lupus is one of the most common autoimmune diseases. It affects many organs and is responsible for multiple possible clinical symptoms. This condition affects, for the vast majority, women, often young, between the ages of 15 and 45. Systemic erythematic lupus may appear as the result of the use of certain drugs.
The symptoms of this form of lupus are varied:
- fatigue, weight loss and fever are usually present;
- Pain, especially localized in the joints, is one of the most common signs;
- damage to the skin or mucous membranes, typically with red scales and peeling, often around the face;
- an increase in the size of lymph nodes;
- other organs may be affected, such as the heart, kidney, lung, and liver.
The disease progresses through successive phases of relapse followed by periods of remission.
The diagnosis is made after a thorough review that seeks to detect the presence or absence of each of the possible signs, which together will help to eliminate or strongly underline this diagnosis. Blood tests are done to find other arguments for confirm the diagnosis, namely by underlining a number of antibodies are often present in the disease.
The treatment will be based on the administration of:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesic in milder forms;
- corticosteroids in more advanced forms;
- immunosuppressants to reduce the attacks of antibodies against the body's cells. Immunosuppressive drugs have substantial side effects. Regular biological monitoring must be scheduled during treatment.
There is no cure for lupus. Treatment is administered for life. Close monitoring must accompany treatment.