Learn About Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Symptoms and Its Treatment.


April, 2022

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): Diagnosis and Treatments

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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is the most common form of lupus and autoimmune disease. In this disease your immune system attacks its own tissues, resulting in widespread inflammation and tissue damage in the affected organs. It can affect the kidneys, skin, brain, joints, lungs, and blood vessels. There is no cure for lupus, but some lifestyle changes and medical interventions can help control it.

It is a chronic condition that can have phases of worsening symptoms that alternate with periods of mild symptoms. Most people with systemic lupus erythematosus are able to live a normal life with treatment.

How serious is SLE?

The seriousness of systemic lupus erythematosus can range from mild to life-threatening. The condition should be treated by a doctor or a team of expert surgeons who specialize in the care of SLE patients. People with lupus who receive proper medical care, prevention, and education can significantly improve their function and quality of life.

What are the symptoms of SLE?

The symptoms of SLE can vary from person to person. Common symptoms may include:

  • Severe fatigue

  • Joint pain

  • Joint swelling

  • Anemia

  • Blood-clotting problems

  • Headaches

  • Hair loss

  • Sensitivity to sunlight

  • A rash on the nose and cheeks, which is known as a “butterfly rash”

  • Fingers turn white or blue and tingle in cold, which is known as “Raynaud’s phenomenon”

Other systemic lupus erythematosus symptoms vary depending on the area of the body the disease is attacking, such as the gastrointestinal tract, heart, or skin.

The symptoms of lupus are also the symptoms of many other diseases, which makes diagnosis tricky. Consult your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. Your doctor may recommend some tests to collect the information needed to make an accurate diagnosis

What are the causes of SLE?

The specific cause of SLE is unknown, but a number of factors have been associated with the disease.


The disease isn’t linked to a specific gene, but people with lupus disorder often have family members with other autoimmune diseases.


Environmental triggers can include:

  • Ultraviolet Rays

  • Certain Medications

  • Viruses

  • Physical or Emotional Stress

  • Trauma

Sex and Hormones

SLE is more common in women than in men. Women may also experience more worst symptoms during pregnancy and throughout their menstrual periods. Both of these observations have led some medical experts to believe that the female hormone estrogen may play a vital role in the development of SLE. However, more research is still required to prove this theory.

How is SLE diagnosed?

SLE is diagnosed by health care specialists using physical examination, symptom assessments, X-rays and lab tests. SLE may be tough to diagnose because its initial signs and symptoms are not specific and can appear as signs and symptoms of other conditions. If only a blood test is used for diagnosis, it may be misdiagnosed. Because diagnosis can be challenging, it is necessary to consult a surgeon specializing in rheumatology for a final diagnosis.

What is the treatment for SLE?

There is no cure for SLE. The aim of systemic lupus erythematosus treatment is to reduce the severity of symptoms. Treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms and which part of your body is affected by SLE. The following treatments include:

  • Steroid creams for rashes

  • Corticosteroids are used to reduce the immunological response

  • Antimalarial drugs are used for joint and skin problems

  • For more severe cases, disease-modifying medicines or immune system targeting therapies may be used.

  • Anti-inflammatory medications are used for joint pain and stiffness, such as these options available online

Talk with your health care specialist about your diet and lifestyle habits. Your health care specialist might recommend eating or avoiding particular foods and minimizing stress to reduce the chances of triggering symptoms. You may need to have screenings for osteoporosis because steroids can thin your bones. Your physician may also suggest preventive care, like immunizations that are safe for people with autoimmune disorders and cardiac screenings.




Dr Shweta Singhai

Consultant - Rheumatology

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