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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Sle)

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that mainly affects the joints and muscles. Other parts of the body, such as the skin, blood cells, kidney, heart and brain may also be affected. Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that immune cells in the body that usually attack and destroy viruses and harmful bacteria begin attacking normal parts of the body. The cause of lupus is not known.

Common symptoms include:

  • Butterfly shaped rash across the bridge of the nose and cheeks or a disk-shaped rash on the face, neck or chest.

  • Sunlight sensitivity -- a short time in the sun may lead to severe sunburn or rash.

  • Arthritis -- stiff, painful or swollen joints

  • Fatigue or depression

The leading cause of death from lupus is heart disease. So, it is important to manage other risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol. There is no cure for lupus, but most people can lead normal, active lives with proper care. Your doctor may prescribe oral steroids or drugs that suppress the immune system in order to slow down the progress of the disease. Some people benefit from anti-malarial drugs as well.

Home Care:

1) If you were prescribed a medicine, take it as directed.

2) You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. [ NOTE : If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.] Don’t take ibuprofen or other NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) medicine if you were prescribed prednisone.

3) Avoid sun exposure. Use sun protection (hats, cover-up clothing) and sun screen (at least SPF 15).

4) Get enough rest and reduce stress to help your immune system stay balanced.

5) Light exercise and physical activity will help you feel your best.

6) If you have high blood pressure, consider buying an automatic blood pressure machine (available at most pharmacies). Use this to monitor your blood pressure and report to your doctor.

7) Limit alcohol intake and eat a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and cholesterol.

8) If you smoke, quit. Smoking increases the risk of lupus related complications.

Follow Up

with your doctor or as advised by our staff. For more information contact:

  • Lupus Foundation 202-349-1155,

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

-- Increasing weakness, fainting

-- Chest pain or shortness of breath or pain with breathing

-- Severe headache with fever

-- Seizures

-- Leg swelling, redness or tenderness (sign of blood clot)

-- Unusual bruising or bleeding anywhere on your body

-- Blood in your stool (black or red color)

-- Abdominal pain, repeated vomiting


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