What is it?
The immune system normally fights off bacteria and dangerous infections to keep the body healthy. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks the body because it confuses it for something foreign. There are many autoimmune diseases and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). is one of them. It affects many parts of the body and causes symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening. There are some types of lupus that just affect the skin – such as discoid lupus erythematosus and subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus. The more severe form of the condition is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), this can affect many parts of the body, including the skin, joints and internal organs.
What are the symptoms?
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)..
- Joint pain and swelling.
- A rash on the cheeks and nose, which is called a “butterfly rash”.
- Hair loss.
- Blood-clotting problems.
- Fingers turning white or blue and tingling when cold, which is known as Raynaud’s phenomenon.
- Other symptoms vary according to the part of the body SLE is affecting e.g. skin, heart or digestive system. As the symptoms of SLE can be similar to a number of other conditions, many of which are more common, it can be difficult to diagnose.therefore you must consult your GP when such symptoms appear.
What to expect?
If you are diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematous, you can consider discussing the following subjects with your doctor:
- What investigations are needed to assess your condition? If so, what preparations do you need to do prior to these tests?
- Often patients with systemic lupus erythematosus are prescribed medication to suppress their symptoms and are taken lifelong. Is this the case for you as well?
- A healthy diet, quitting smoking and an active lifestyle can help lessen symptoms and improve overall health and well-being. Which changes can you make in your lifestyle?
- Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus are usually followed-up regularly. How often should you go back and see your doctor for follow-up?
With the treatment provided to you by your doctor, you can also try the following:
- Try relaxation techniques to manage stress – stress can make symptoms worse.
- Use high-factor (50+) sunscreen.
- Wear a hat in the sun.
- Avoid sitting in direct sunlight or spending a lot of time in rooms with fluorescent lights.