Lupus: Overview

Lupus usually refers to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), often abbreviated to just Lupus Erythematosus or Lupus. However, there are other lesser known types of lupus such as Discoid Lupus. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a disease from inflammation of the connective tissues in the body and around the organs. It is believed to be an autoimmune disease, caused by the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacking the connective tissue cells. The typical patient is a woman aged 15 to 40.

SLE varies greatly in symptoms and severity depending on exactly which connective tissues of what organs are attacked. Some cases of SLE are so mild that they remain undiagnosed with only mild or vague symptoms. Other cases can be life-threatening if the connective tissue of the heart or kidneys are attacked. Some people may have a sudden attack of severe symptoms. Other people may find that symptoms develop slowly over years, or come and go in bouts or “attacks” of lupus symptoms.

Although symptoms vary, there are a few common symptom patterns. A characteristic “butterfly” shaped rash over the nose and cheeks is a common lupus symptom. Symptoms of lupus may include generally vague symptoms such as: fever, chills, tiredness, fatigue, weakness, muscle aches, or just generally feeling unwell.

Other symptoms may include a mottled redness on the palms, fingers and fingernails; cold sensitivity of the fingers; patchy hair loss (alopecia areata), joint aches and joint pain, mouth and nose ulcers, enlarged lymph nodes, and various other symptoms.

Additional symptoms can also arise when a particular organ or region is attacked, causing particular symptoms of complications such as: pleurisy (inflammation of the pleura), pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart), glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidneys), enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), and brain inflammation symptoms.

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