What Is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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What is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (S.L.E)

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of your joints, tissues, and organs. The inflammation presents itself as heat, pain, swelling and redness. SLE is a variable disease that doesn’t take any one particular course; therefore its unpredictability makes it even more devastating. No two people will experience the same disease symptoms or severity level. As S.L.E progresses there will be periods of very subtle to no symptoms at all called remission or an exacerbation of symptoms called flares. Normally the body is protected by the immune system. When the immune system detects an unwelcome visitor such as fungi, bacteria and or viruses the bodies natural reaction would be for the immune system to seek and destroy these nasty invaders. In people who suffer from lupus the immune system malfunctions and no longer has the ability to distinguish normal antibodies from the invaders called antigens. The body fights against itself, launching an attack on the bodies own tissues, blood cells, joints and vital organs. According to recent studies, 90% of people suffering from Lupus are young women in their childbearing age. However, children, older men and women can also be affected. The diagnosis of S.L.E can be a long and tedious process. S.L.E is diagnosed based primarily on its symptoms and a few blood test, non of which can definitively diagnose the disease. Due to its vast variety of symptoms, distinguishing S.L.E from similar diseases is very difficult. There are several ways to obtain the many different pieces to the puzzle. Laboratory test, spinal taps and biopsies are the most commonly used diagnostic test and procedures used to confirm a S.L.E diagnosis. Diagnosing S.L.E

The first step in diagnosing S.L.E is obtaining a complete medical history and list of symptoms and complaints. This will give the physician a direction to go and an idea of what test to perform. Initially a blood sample is taken checking for the presence of ANA’s, antinuclear antibodies. ANA’s are unusual antibodies that repel invaders into our body. ANA’s bind to structures within the nucleus of the cells. These antibodies are found in people whose immune system causes inflammation against their own body tissue. The propensity for the immune system to work against its own body is referred to as autoimmunity. ANA’s indicate the possible presence of autoimmunity and provide, therefore, an indication for doctors to consider the possibility of an autoimmune illness (MedicineNet.com). Another test performed would be a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). A lumbar puncture is a diagnostic test in which cerebral spinal fluid is extracted from your spinal column for examination. The pressure of the spinal column is measured by inserting a needle into the spinal cord (UKlupus.co.uk/lumbar.com). This test will reveal the presence of inflammation, infection, and any disease of the central nervous system. Based on the findings, this test will help the doctors determine between S.L.E and multiple sclerosis which is another autoimmune disease very similar to lupus. Once the diagnosis of S.L.E is confirmed, a biopsy may be suggested. Because S.L.E is a multisystem autoimmune disease which primarily attack the kidney, renal biopsies are almost always performed, if there are high levels of creatinine or protein in your urine sample. Although there is still no one test to diagnose lupus, doctors have developed lupus criteria. Lupus criteria consist of eleven symptoms to assist in the diagnosis of lupus. A person should have at least four of the eleven criteria to be suspected of having lupus. The eleven criteria are malar rash that is shaped like a butterfly on the face, discoid rash, photosensitivity, oral ulcers, arthritis, serositis inflammation of the heart or lung, neurologic disorder, renal disorder, hematologic disorder, ANA’s and or...
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