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Suffering with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus)

Suffering with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus, another name for SLE, is an autoimmune condition with a wide range of symptoms. Living with lupus is challenging. Gaining more knowledge about lupus aids in coping with it. This page addresses the frequently asked questions by lupus patients.

What is SLE?

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the immune system targets and damages immune cells. Although it can affect people of all ages, the 15–45 age range is the most typically affected. More women than men are impacted.

What causes SLE?

The exact cause is not known. Depending on the genes that are in each person’s body, Lupus is exacerbated by a number of environmental factors, including smoking, viruses, sunlight, stress, and stress. However, it has been found that a combination of many things predisposes patients to SLE.

What are the symptoms of lupus?

The symptoms of lupus vary from person to person. Symptoms may come and go at different times. A few of these include joint pain, skin rash, exhaustion, fever, weight loss, hair loss, oral ulcers, seizures (fits), headaches, changes in finger or toe color when exposed to cold air, shortness of breath, pain when breathing in, passing frothy or less urine, blood clots and recurrent miscarriages.

How is it diagnosed?

A single test is insufficient to identify clinical lupus. However, a combination of bedside examination and blood tests can help to diagnose it like ANA test (found to be positive in 95% of patients) Blood cell counts, liver and kidney functions, anti-dsDNA, and urine testing.

Is it curable?

SLE, like diabetes and hypertension, is treatable but not curable. Better therapy alternatives have recently become available, improving control of SLE. Patients usually resort to stopping medicines, trying alternative systems of medicines, and land up in emergencies. Experts offer the most assistance possible for a happy existence. Patients with lupus will always have the disease.

Is it hereditary?

Not predictable typically. Lupus has a complex etiology. Although there is a chance that children will develop lupus, the disease does not have a set pattern of heredity.

What are the treatment options available?

SLE is treated expertly by rheumatologists. In order to control the condition in its early stages, steroid pills, creams, and injections are available alternatives. Be not alarmed by adverse effects; physicians are aware of them and keep an eye out for them.
Additional medications include biologic therapy, anti-malarial medications such as hydroxychloroquine, DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic medications), medications to control high blood pressure and cholesterol, and special medications such as cyclosporine and MMF.

How frequently should the doctor be consulted?

Ideally, at the beginning once a month. It can be reduced to once every two to three months once the illness is under control.

What can I do from my end to keep my lupus under control or feel better?

Lead a healthy lifestyle:This is very beneficial for those with lupus. Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy products, and other nutritious foods; stay away from refined sugars and sweets. Continue to move. Walking and taking the stairs whenever possible, as well as doing light at-home workouts, are all excellent ways for lupus patients to maintain their bones and muscles strong.

Refrain from smoking and other addictions: Aim to reduce or eliminate both physical and mental stress. One can think about practicing mindfulness or meditation, among other relaxation techniques.

Avoid excess sun exposure:Use a good sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 or take the doctor’s advice.

Show an expert in lupus (like a rheumatologist):Follow their directions

Get educated about SLE:It is very important for patients to have good information and be educated about their disease so that they can take better treatment decisions. They should ask their doctor to provide patient information material.

Plan pregnancy:Do let your rheumatologist/doctor know if you want to plan pregnancy. It should be avoided if you have active disease. The doctor can guide with appropriate contraception methods or ways to avoid pregnancy till the disease gets controlled.

Acknowledge your feelings and seek support. As there is currently no cure for lupus and it can affect many parts of your life, it is natural to feel scared, frustrated, sad, and sometimes angry. Be aware of these feelings and get help if they start affecting your daily life.

As lupus is a life-long disease, it is important to see your doctor regularly to make sure it stays under control.

Please visit the Dept of Rheumatology and consult our Rheumatologist to know more about SLE.

By, Dr. Mahabaleshwar Mamadapur
Assistant Professor,
Dept of Rheumatology,
JSS Hospital, Mysuru