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Lupus, SLE, or Systemic Lupus Erythematosis. What is this complex and misunderstood disease? Many people have heard of it, but most do not know what it is, or believe it is a skin condition. This is far from the truth. Lupus is a very complex disease that affects thousands of people.

Lupus or SLE is a disease of the immune system, or an autoimmune disease. It can affect every part of the body, every organ. The word systemic means it affects every system or organ in the body. The word Lupus means wolf. The word Erythematosis means redness. The facial rash is supposed to resemble the bite of a wolf.

In SLE, the body develops antibodies that react against the person's own normal tissue. Sort of like the body is allergic to itself. The disease is very unpredictable and every person's lupus is different. No two are alike. There are many symptoms. Some may have two or three of the symptoms and not the others, someone else may have some of the others. Lupus usually affects young women, men and children can have it also. It is NOT contagious. SLE usually has flares or exacerbations (when disease and symptoms are bad) and remissions (when you may not even know you have a disease)

How do I get Lupus?

Lupus is being studied. It is believed several things play a part in the development of this disease. 1- Immune system dysfunction, it goes out of wack. 2- Genetics, though there is no single lupus gene, it is believed that certian genes abnormalities that are present in the disease are are inherited. 3-Environmetal factors such as exposure to sun, stress, chemicals and viruses can trigger the onset of the disease.

What are the symptoms?

-fatigue, weakness
-mouth or nose ulcers
-skin rashes
-hair loss
-kidney problems
-hematoligic disorders (abnormal blood tests)

Depending on what is going on during a flare
other more specific symptoms can include any or all of these:
-weight gain or loss
-elevated or lowered WBC's
-low self esteem
-irritability and mood swings
-butterfly rash on cheeks
-hair loss
-easy bruising, pinpoint red dots
-shortness of breath
-chest pain
-muscle pain
-muscle weakness and atrophy (shrinking muscles)
-mouth ulcers
-itching or burning skin
-impaired wound healing
-morning joint stiffness
-joint pain
-hand and finger pain
-swollen and/or bleeding gums
-sensitivity to cold
-swelling or legs or feet
-flank pain
-back/neck pains
-dysuria (burning with urination)
-rib pain
-tinnitus (ringing in ears)
-visual problems
-abdominal bloating/dystension

Treatment of SLE

See a doctor, preferably a Rheumatologist or Immunologist, who specializes in these types of disorders.

-well balanced diet
-protection from UV rays, and direct sunlight
-medications incluse NSAIDS, which are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories
-follow your doctor's care and advise
-live your life, research Lupus, so you are well prepared. Educate yourself and your family so they can understand and be supportive.