What is Lupus?
This page discusses Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, there are various forms of Lupus. After this I will refer to SLE as just Lupus. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Something goes wrong in a person’s body when they develop an autoimmune disease and the body’s immune system stops fighting just the bad guys. It starts fighting everything, including healthy tissue.
What are the symptoms of Lupus?
The most common symptoms of lupus, which are the same for females and males, are:
- Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
- Painful or swollen joints
- Anemia (low numbers of red blood cells or hemoglobin, or low total blood volume)
- Swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands, and/or around eyes
- Pain in chest on deep breathing (pleurisy)
- Butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
- Sun- or light-sensitivity (photosensitivity)
- Hair loss
- Abnormal blood clotting
- Fingers turning white and/or blue when cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- Mouth or nose ulcers
How is Lupus Diagnosed?
A physician will carefully review the following while evaluating a lupus diagnosis:
- your current symptoms
- your laboratory test results
- your medical history
- the medical history of your close family members (grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins)
What are the diagnostic criteria for lupus?
To help the doctors diagnose lupus, a list of 11 common criteria, or measures, was developed by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). ACR is a professional association of rheumatologists. These are the doctors who specialize in treating diseases of the joints and muscles, like lupus. If you have at least four of the criteria on the list, either at the present time or at some time in the past, there is a strong chance that you have lupus.
- Malar rash – a rash over the cheeks and nose, often in the shape of a butterfly
- Discoid rash – a rash that appears as red, raised, disk-shaped patches
- Photosensitivity – a reaction to sun or light that causes a skin rash to appear or get worse
- Oral ulcers – sores appearing in the mouth
- Arthritis – joint pain and swelling of two or more joints in which the bones around the joints do not become destroyed
- Serositis – inflammation of the lining around the lungs (pleuritis) or inflammation of the lining around the heart that causes chest pain which is worse with deep breathing (pericarditis)
- Kidney disorder – persistent protein or cellular casts in the urine
- Neurological disorder – seizures or psychosis
- Blood disorder – anemia (low red blood cell count), leukopenia (low white blood cell count), lymphopenia (low-level of specific white blood cells), or thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
- Immunologic disorder –anti-DNA or anti-Sm or positive antiphospholipid antibodies
- Abnormal antinuclear antibody (ANA)
Links to Valuable Information On lupus