Lupus

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Overview

Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease, which affects a range of different organ systems of the body. It is not always easy to diagnose this disease, because its signs and symptoms can be similar to those of other diseases.

Causes

Like most autoimmune diseases, lupus manifests as a result of a combination of genetic, as well as environmental factors. So individuals with a genetic predisposition to develop this disease, are likely to get it when they are in contact with an environmental trigger. Some of such environmental triggers are listed below:

  • Sunlight
  • Infections
  • Medications

Symptoms

The autoantibodies of lupus affect so many systems of the body in which the signs and symptoms can vary greatly in accordance with the organ that is currently affected. The following are some of the most common symptoms of this disease:

  • Butterfly rash (A rash on the nose and cheeks, classic for lupus)
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Skin lesions
  • Photosensitivity (skin lesions worsen on sun exposure)
  • Raynaud’s phenomena (Fingers that turn white or blue when exposed to cold)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches

Diagnosis

Since lupus affects such a diverse range of organs, there is no one specific test for lupus. A combination of the following tests and procedures can lead us to the correct diagnosis:

  • Complete blood count
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • Renal function tests
  • Liver function tests
  • Antinuclear antibody test
  • Urinalysis
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Tissue biopsy (skin, kidney)

Treatment

There is no treatment for this disease, so the treatment plan aims to minimize the symptoms. The following medications are used for the control of this disease:

  • NSAIDs
  • Antimalarial drugs
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Rituximab
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