SOC313: Social Implications of Medical Issues
A Look At Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Instructor: Mandee Rowley
August 13, 2012
A Look At Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that is primarily a disease of young women. The disease has a wide array of manifestations and can be fatal. SLE produces antibodies to the body’s own cells leading to full-body inflammation and tissue damage. The causes of the disease are unknown but have been linked to genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. A patient with SLE may experience times of extreme illness and full remissions. The disease can affect joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels. Common signs and symptoms of SLE are fatigue, pain or swelling in joints, skin rashes, and fevers. Multiple providers are required in treating lupus due to the number of organ systems and body areas involved. A diagnosis of SLE impacts hundreds of thousands of people each year. A diagnosis of SLE can impact a patient’s life physically, emotionally, and financially. There are numerous campaigns and programs available for those that have been diagnosed from self-management education of the disease and it’s symptoms to physical activity programs to improve the health and endurance of the patient. These programs offer evidence based interventions to help minimize the impact of SLE on a patient’s life. There are also numerous research efforts of the disease for the health care providers in better treatment of the disease and for the patient’s in coping with the signs and symptoms. The medical description of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an auto-immune disease of un-known cause. The disease affects multiple organs and causes multiple systemic symptoms. It is a very unpredictable disease; it can progress quickly or slowly and the experienced symptoms vary from patient to patient. The disease has no cure and may result in early death. Patients can live years in remission and manage their flare-ups with medications and medical care management. Falvo states that for patients, “The goal is to improve or maintain organ function and to prevent permanent organ damage.” (2009) The disease is not easily diagnosed. These patients tend to be young females and are more apt to be African American. The Lupus Foundation states on their website that, “Because many symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) mimic those of other illnesses, lupus can be a difficult disease to diagnose.” (2012) Laboratory tests in combination of the patient’s physical signs and symptoms is how the disease of SLE. It is not common to make a diagnosis immediately. The Lupus Foundation also states on their website that, “More often than not it is a diagnosis that evolves over time, leading towards more certainty that a person does or does not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of lupus. (2012) The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) developed a list of 11 common measures to assist is the diagnosing of SLE. According to the ACR if a patient is currently experiencing or has experienced at least four from the list there is a strong chance that the patient has lupus. Some of the most common and apparent symptoms that the patients experience are “butterfly” rashes (over the nose and cheeks) and joint discomfort. Another common symptom that is experienced is chronic and extreme fatigue. The ACR gives a comprehensive list of the symptoms including, rash, photosensitivity, oral ulcers, arthritis, serositis (inflammation of the linings around the heart and lungs), kidney disorder, seizures, anemia and a compromised immune system. Patients with SLE may also experience fevers over 100° F and hair loss. The impact on the body areas and organ systems is a slow process but, is very destructive. Being that systemic lupus erythematosus is an auto-immune disease that creates antibodies...