Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

What is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an inflammatory disease that occurs due to immunity disorder. Lupus is caused when body’s owns defense system attacks healthy tissues in many parts of the body. The symptoms vary from individual to individual. The disease passes through stages of severity with alternate periods of hard and mild symptoms. People suffering with SLE can lead a normal life with the help of treatments. The early symptoms may vary from fatigue to joint pain, and rashes with mild fever.

The available treatments options are not definite cure but focus on improving the quality of life lead by any human. Lifestyle modifications with diet improvements and restriction from sunlight exposure are some important measures. In India alone the count for registered cases of the disease is 1 million per year.


SLE is called a “great mimic” as the symptoms of the disease vary from person to person and never persistent. They keep on coming and going and needs diagnosis. However, the common indicators or signs accompanying SLE are joint pain, fatigue, and skin rashes. Other symptoms include:

  • Headache and hair loss.
  • Eczema or skin problems.
  • Arthritis.
  • Anemia or low blood count.
  • Rash on cheeks, often termed as butterfly-rash.
  • Raynaud’s phenomena, in which fingers turn white and blue with a tingling cold sensation.
  • Problems in blood clotting, especially after an injury.

Symptoms localise depending on the affected body part such as the digestive tract, skin, or heart. Patient suffering with systemic lupus erythematosus (later referred as Lupus) may at times feel chest pain with difficulty in breathing.

The localised symptoms are:

  • Brain and nervous system: Headaches, pain, numbness, vision problems, and personality disorders.
  • Kidney: Unexpected weight gain with swelling in the legs.
  • Digestive tract: Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Lung: Cough with blood and difficulty in breathing.
  • Heart: Palpitations and abnormal heart rhythm.



The exact cause of lupus is not known clearly. The disease may affect any age and gender but is more common among women than men. Most common factors that can be a possible cause of lupus are:

  • Genetics or family history: Immunity disorders are often carried through genes and are common in people with a family history of the disease.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to UV radiations, certain medications, stress and trauma, are main reasons for people developing lupus disorder.
  • Hormones and gender: SLE is common among women than men. Researchers believe the female hormone, estrogen is the reason behind the same. Women also face problems with their menstrual cycle. Though the theory is not yet proved.


SLE is a chronic disease and there is no definite cure for the same. The long term occurrence of this disease may create certain complications which include:

  • Inflammations in the heart, lung tissues or lining, kidneys, etc.
  • Kidney failures or dysfunctioning.
  • Reduced blood clot capability.
  • Silent attacks or heart strokes.
  • Memory and behavioural changes leading to personality disorders.
  • Seizures.


At present, there is no preventive measures for the disease. However, certain modifications can help one prevent such disease:

  • Avoiding sun exposure.
  • Avoiding smoking.
  • Consumption of healthy diet.
  • Living a healthy lifestyle.

How is it diagnosed?

At Medanta, our doctor when approached for symptoms of lupus, will take down physical and family history along with symptoms noticed. The physical exams include, presence of sun sensitive skin rash...

How is it treated?

The goal of any treatment is to ease out symptoms of the disease and provide relief. There is no definite cure or medication for treatment of lupus. Changes in diet and lifestyle are recommended to minimize the symptoms. Certain important practice..

  • Medications

    Anti-inflammatory medications to counter affect joint pain and stiffness. Steroid ointments or creams for skin rashes. Corticosteroids to deactivate immunity system of the body and minimize self-attack. Antimalarial drugs for skin and joint problems.

When do I contact the doctor?

Persistent fatigue, joint pains, skin rashes and other such symptoms should never be ignored. Immediate consultation with a physician or a doctor is advised. In case of slightest of doubt, a specialist should be consulted for early diagnosis and treatment.

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