Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
What is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus?
Lupus erythematosus, or lupus for short, is a disease of varying degrees of severity, which is one of autoimmune diseases or connective tissue inflammation and collagenosis. A striking feature of lupus is often an intense redness that can affect certain areas of the skin.
It is caused by a chronic inflammation of the blood vessels. Above all, in lupus erythematosus the so-called "butterfly erythema" is known, which can spread butterfly-shaped sideways of the nose in the face. The initial symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus may initially be diverse and relatively nonspecific.
SLE is chronic and requires lengthy treatment. In addition to the systemic lupus, there is also a lupus that can only affect the skin. To ensure the diagnosis, systemic lupus must lead to several concomitant cardiac symptoms and antibodies in the blood. Systemic lupus erythematosus is also abbreviated to the letters SLE.
The cause of lupus erythematosus or systemic lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. In their course, the body's defense is disturbed and misguided. The emergence of autoimmune disorder itself is still largely unexplained in its causes.
Systemic lupus erythematosus refers to the disease because in fact all systems in the body can be damaged by chronic inflammatory processes. This happens especially if you do not diagnose and treat the disease on SLE in time. Systemic lupus erythematosus is considered to be an inflammatory rheumatic disease.
In SLE, especially the cell nuclei are attacked, in which the genetic material is included. Whether the lupus erythematosus for hereditary or hormonal reasons or due to an infection, you do not know yet. The fact that more women are affected makes hormone co-causers likely for SLE. In some cases, lupus has appeared after taking a contraceptive. Hereditary reasons for lupus erythematosus are also possible.
Lupus erythematosus occurs frequently in twins and in some families. The association between lupus erythematosus and past infectious diseases is also being investigated as a possible cause of SLE. Probably the cause of systemic lupus depends on numerous factors.
Symptoms, complaints & signs
The nonspecific symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus include fever, general feeling of weakness and weight loss, usually enlarged lymph nodes are noted. Often SLE manifests itself by joint inflammation, mainly on the hand - not infrequently, the tendon sheaths are affected.
Skin changes occur in about fifty percent of SLE patients: Characteristic is the so-called butterfly erythema, which appears in the form of a symmetrical reddening of the cheeks to the bridge of the nose. Rashes can also occur in other parts of the body and are intensified by sun exposure. Signs of kidney involvement may be swollen legs and eyelids or dark discolored urine.
In about one third of those affected, there is an inflammation of the pleura or pericardium, which is noticeable by respiratory-dependent chest pain. In about ten percent of cases, systemic lupus erythematosus attacks the nervous system and may cause neurological symptoms such as sensory disturbances, headaches, blurred vision, and seizures, as well as mental health problems such as personality changes, memory disorders, and depression.
Rarely, SLE causes a blood clotting disorder with a tendency to thrombosis, embolism, infarction, and pregnancy complications. Peritonitis is characterized by abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, myocarditis may cause cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac insufficiency associated with exercise-related respiratory distress. Muscle pain and weakness may indicate skeletal muscle inflammation.
In lupus, the body's immune system is directed against the organism of the person affected. The resulting antibodies can cause inflammatory reactions throughout the body. This circumstance can make the lupus life-threatening. Due to a disease of lupus even entire organ systems can be damaged.
Systemic lupus erythematosus can cause chronic inflammation of various organs, joints or connective tissue in its course. The course of the disease can be mild, moderate or dramatic. Lupus erythematosus can even lead to death if left untreated. This also applies if the treatment does not work or leads to complications.
Thanks to good medical care, systemic lupus can be survived today in 90 percent of cases. However, an increase of lupus has been observed for years. The most commonly affected patients with lupus erythematosus include women.
Systemic lupus erythematosus can cause complications in the whole body - especially in inflammation of the brain or kidneys, serious consequences are possible. It can come about to a chronic kidney failure, as a result, the patient must be connected to a dialysis machine. An inflammation of the brain can cause neurological symptoms - such as gait disturbances or other deficits.
The antipholipid syndrome may subsequently lead to activation of the blood clotting system. As a result, there is an increased risk of thromboses, embolisms or arterial occlusions. If pregnant women are affected, there is an increased risk of miscarriage. Similar complications can occur with systemic lupus erythematosus.
Drug-induced lupus erythematosus is associated with involvement of the joints, pleura, and occasionally the pericardium. After discontinuation of the triggering drug, the symptoms usually disappear again. The therapy of the disease also carries risks.
The prescribed antimalarial drugs are always associated with side effects and interactions. Typically, headache, body aches, and transient gastrointestinal complaints occur. Prolonged intake increases the risk of retinal damage. Similar risks come from painkillers, cholesterol-lowering drugs and other drugs.
When should you go to the doctor?
The person is dependent on SLE for medical treatment by a doctor. Since this disease can not lead to a self-healing and the symptoms get worse if left untreated, a follow-up examination must be performed in any case. Only then can the development of further complications be prevented.
A doctor is to visit SLE then, if the person suffering from inflammation of the joints. It comes to fever and a general malaise. Not infrequently, patients also suffer from swollen legs or severe movement restrictions. Even chest or heart pain may indicate SLE and should be examined by a doctor. Furthermore, vision problems or severe abdominal pain often indicate this disease and must be examined if they do not disappear on their own.
SLE can be detected by a pediatrician or a GP. In the further treatment, the visit to a specialist is usually necessary, as this depends on the exact complaints.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus is usually taken over by the rheumatologist. Thorough history, blood tests and clinical examination may confirm the suspicion of lupus.
Systemic lupus erythematosus treatment is mainly done with immune suppressive drugs. Lupus erithematodes is therefore often treated with cortisone preparations.
Prevention of lupus erythematosus is in fact not possible. In order to prevent lupus erythematosus, one can avoid at best strong UV radiation. If one already suffers from systemic lupus erythematosus, one should avoid sunlight and long sunbathing.
As a result of the therapy, the cause of the disease is untreated. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) does not heal. On the basis of the clinical findings, it can only be assessed for aftercare whether the disease progresses slowly (chronic progressive course) or progressively in batches. The main tasks of the follow-up are to monitor the course of the disease, to check the medication as well as to detect and treat newly added symptoms.
This requires regular controls of the "big" blood picture. During the follow-up examinations, the attending physician depends on a detailed description of the general state of health and the complaints by the patient. Because in medicine, no laboratory values are recognized, where the activity of the SLE can be reliably estimated.
The inflammatory activity may possibly reduce by itself. Basically, however, SLE increases in severity and in the number of symptoms. Clinical stays may then be required to re-evaluate the necessary medication. But new symptoms are not curable, but only to be relieved by medication.
The patient must learn to deal with SLE in everyday life. As a first approach, a spa treatment is recommended. The exception is the drug-induced SLE. The follow-up examinations can be omitted as soon as a good general state of health returns to the patient when the triggering medication is discontinued.
You can do that yourself
Patients are advised to lead a healthy lifestyle as possible. These include physical activity as well as a renunciation of alcohol, nicotine and too much coffee.
A change in diet helps to relieve symptoms. For example, eating whole foods and avoiding egg and milk products as well as low-fat foods has a positive effect on the disease. In addition, olive oil is recommended because it contains plenty of the fatty acid Omega 9. This helps to reduce inflammation, which is fundamental in this disease.
In case of joint or muscle problems, wraps inserted in herbal stock can have a soothing effect. Medicinal herbs are also used for symptom relief. These include: angelica, garlic, ginger, marjoram, lemon grass, black pepper, lemon, basil, lemon balm and juniper.
In addition, a healthy digestive tract is fundamental in those affected, because many patients suffer from a significant lack of nutrients. That is why it is especially important to guarantee the correct nutrient uptake. With probiotics can promote a healthy and strong intestinal flora, which also helps to prevent inflammation. Massages are also part of the recommended symptom treatment. These help noticeably in relieving inflammation, detoxify the body and reduce stress.