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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Disease of Inflammation

Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) can affect any organ in the body. Women are affected eight to ten times more frequently than men. This condition causes the body’s immune system to turn against itself and attack healthy tissue. The result of this attack is inflammation and injury to the involved organ.

Lupus can begin as a fever, weakness, weight loss, or fatigue. If the inflammation involves the skin, a butterfly rash may occur on the face. If the joints become involved, arthritis can ensue. Most forms of lupus are very mild and only affect the skin or the joints. In the more severe forms of the disease, the lungs, heart, kidneys, blood, muscles, and even the brain may be involved.

Confirming a lupus diagnosis can be complicated. Your physician will need to obtain a careful history of your illness and perform a complete physical examination. Specialized blood tests are also required. Rheumatologists usually treat the mild form of the disease with simple but effective medications. If the inflammation is severe and many organs are involved, your rheumatologist may begin stronger medications. Additionally, a regimen of rest and exercise, combined with a balanced diet and limited sun exposure may be recommended. Support groups can also provide relief when coping with this disease.


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All medications have potential side effects, risks and interactions with other medications as well as over the counter drugs. Not all medications are right for all patients. You should always check with your physician or health care provider prior to the use of any medication.