Lupus erythematosus is a autoimmune chronic skin condition. This condition occurs when the body’s immune system became hyperactive and unable to differentiate between foreign antigens and normal healthy tissues and attacks the healthy tissues resulting inflammation and swelling. It is seen that lupus is more common among women rather than men.
Symptoms of lupus : The symptoms of lupus varies from person to person and also characterized by periods of flare and periods of remission. Some common symptoms are given below :
- Skin rash
- Pain and swelling
- General discomfort
- Mouth sores and ulcers
- Sensitive to sunlight
Cause : The exact cause behind lupus is still unknown. It is considered that following factors may triggers lupus
- Exposure to sunlight
- Some medications
- Some infections like cytomegalovirus, parvovirus , hepatitis C infections, and the Epstein-Barr virus
- Chemical exposure
Types of lupus :
- Systemic lupus erythematosus : Systematic lupus erythematous or SLE may affect any organs like the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, and nervous system. This condition often shows alternating phases of flares and remissions. It is the most severe form of lupus.
- Discoid lupus erythematosus : This type of lupus only affects dermal tissues and can be classifieds in following types:
- Childhood discoid lupus erythematosus
- Generalized discoid lupus erythematosus
- Localized discoid lupus erythematosus
- Drug-induced lupus erythematosus : Drug-induced lupus erythematosus (DIL or DILE) may be triggered by use of some drugs like hydralazine, procainamide and isoniazid. This condition generally disappear after the medication is discontinued.
- Neonatal lupus erythematosus : In this type of lupus an infant is born with symptoms of lupus. It generally happens if the mother has SLE. The infant with lupus sometimes may have other systemic abnormalities like heart block or hepatosplenomegaly.
Possible complications : Inflammation caused by lupus may also affects various organs of body and may leads to damage of the particular organ.
- Kidney : Lupus affecting kidney can cause generalized itching, chest pain, nausea, vomiting followed by serious kidney damage.
- Brain : The common symptoms of lupus affecting brain are headaches, dizziness, behavior changes, hallucinations, memory problems and difficulty to express their thoughts.
- Blood and blood vessels : Lupus may lead to anemia and increased risk of bleeding or blood clotting. It may also cause vasculitis or inflammation of the blood vessels.
- Lungs : Lupus may increases your chances of developing pleurisy ( an inflammation of the chest cavity lining ).
- Heart : Lupus increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
People with lupus often have another autoimmune condition like thyroid disease, Sjogren’s syndrome or Hughes syndrome.
Diagnosis : Their is no direct test for lupus but some tests may indicate the presence of lupus.
Blood tests :
- Complete blood count : This test performed to detect anaemia or low white blood cell or platelet count.
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) : A faster than normal sedimentation rate may indicate a systemic disease, such as lupus.
- Kidney and liver assessment :
- Urinalysis : If lupus affects kidney then urinalysis may show an increased protein level or red blood cells in the urine.
- Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test
Chest X-ray or Echocardiogram may detect the presence of inflammation
Treatments : There is no cure from lupus. The medications are given to reduce the symptoms.
Lifestyle changes : Avoiding sunlight is very important for the sufferer of lupus.
Treatment for mild to moderate lupus :
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) : Some common anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, naproxen sodium, and ibuprofen are given to reduce inflammation.
- Antimalarial drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) : The relationship between lupus and malaria is still unknown, but it is seen that malaria medicines is useful in treating lupus and it also prevents flares of the disease.
- Corticosteroids : Prednisone and other types of corticosteroids are given to counter inflammation.
Treatment for severe lupus :
- High-dose corticosteroids : High-dose corticosteroids are given intravenously or taken orally to control severe symptoms of lupus.
- Immunosuppressive drugs : Some immunosuppressive drugs like cyclophosphamide and azathioprine are used to treat serious case of lupus.
- Intravenous immunoglobulins : Intravenous immunoglobulins may be given to control SLE where internal organs are involved.