Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a kind of disease that is a good example of an “autoimmune disease”. It is a chronic inflammatory disease where the immune system attacks the tissues of different organ systems throughout the body and can result in many problems.
Overall, this disease occurs to a frequency of about one in 1000. It is most common in women, particularly in the fertile years. In these years this disease has a ratio of about 9 women to 1 man, while in other years the ratio is much closer.
There are various manifestations of systemic lupus ranging from mild to life threatening. The most common symptoms of this disease include: rash (with a “butterfly rash” occurring on the face being common) sun sensitivity arthritis mouth and other mucous membranes sores pericarditis (inflammation around the lining of the heart) pleurisy (inflammation around the lining of the lungs) a tendency to form blood clots a tendency for blood vessels to get inflamed seizures renal disease which can further lead to kidney failure and dialysis blood abnormalities, etc.
Because of the many different manifestations, this can be a very difficult disease to diagnose. Blood tests are helpful. Mostly, rheumatologists are consulted to help and confirm the diagnosis. Because of the difficulty in treating some of these problems they are also needed to take part in the management of this disease.
The cause of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is still not known. There lies a genetic predisposition to it, and can be triggered by environmental exposures. Because of these genetic influences, this disease is more common in some parts of the world than in others.
Many patients are available that can be very sensitive to the sun, and sunlight can trigger diverse elements of the disease, such as renal disease.
Still, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has no cure, but there are some medications that are available and it helps to manage its varied manifestations.
Few of the medications that can be used for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) include: relatively mild medications like plaquenil, medications for pain, varying doses of glucocorticoids (such as prednisone) which often results in many adverse effects and immunosuppressive (such as chemotherapeutic agents) which need careful monitoring.
It is very difficult to believe but there has been no new drug approved for the treatment of systemic lupus for past several decades. This is in part because of the many problems of the disease. It is difficult to find patients with similar manifestations who have a similar activity to their disease.
This is needed to prove that a medication is effective. This is why it is so important to continue to look for new treatments in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). A new medication may be approved for use in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) soon, but much needs to be done.