What is Lupus?

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a chronic disease that can cause systemic inflammation and can affect multiple organs. It is an Autoimmune Disease characterized by the production of antibodies against your own healthy tissues, known as autoantibodies, which can lead to damage to the affected organs.

What are the symptoms of Lupus?

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE has several manifestations depending on which organ(s) are affected. Common symptoms include fatigue, general discomfort, weight loss, oral ulcers, hair loss, multiple different rashes, joint pain and swelling.

How is Lupus diagnosed?

Lupus is notoriously difficult to diagnose because it is a complex disease that has many symptoms, but an accurate diagnosis principally relies on a history (in which symptoms are recorded) and a Physical Exam (where signs of the disease are documented). A positive ANA on its own without the proper clinical findings does not mean you have Lupus, but you should be evaluated with more specific tests. Many labs and some imaging studies may also be used to support the presence of Lupus.

What treatments are available for Lupus?

The treatment for Lupus depends on which organs are affected. Typically, initial treatment would include the medication hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and possible use of corticosteroids to treat acute flares. Other medications used to treat Lupus would be specific to the type of manifestation each patient has. Patients may also be referred to a specialist if organ damage is significant. Preventive measures also include avoidance of prolonged exposure to sunlight without UV protection, proper exercise, smoking cessation and staying up to date with your vaccinations.