Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), also known simply as lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in many parts of the body.
The symptoms vary between people and may be mild to severe. Common symptoms include painful and swollen joints, fever, chest pain, hair loss, mouth ulcers, swollen lymph nodes, feeling tired, and a red rash which is most commonly on the face. Often there are periods of illness, called flares, and periods of remission when there are few symptoms.
The word Lupus means Wolf in Latin. This term was coined in mid 19th century, assuming it to be occurring due to wolf-bite, resembling the erythematic eruptions due to wolf bite.
Gender: SLE is found more predominantly in females than males. Girls are affected more commonly, ratio of 4:1.
Age group: Affects young adults more commonly, in the age group of 10-40.
Women in child-bearing age more affected. Women especially in the age group of 15-44.
Race: Asians, Africans and Americans are at a greater risk of suffering from SLE
Types of SLE:
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): It is the commonest form of SLE. In this type of SLE, various body organs are affected. E.g. Kidney, heart, CNS, bones, etc.
- Discoid Lupus: It is also known as Chronic Cutaneous SLE Erythematosus. In this form of SLE, the disease is restricted only to the skin, giving rise to “discoid rash” which is a raised, scaly and red eruptions. They usually don’t itch.
- Drug Induced SLE : Anti psychotic drugs like Chlorpromazine and antibiotics like Minocycline are known to induce SLE. Withdrawing these medicines usually resolves the case.
Causes of SLE:
The exact cause of SLE is not yet fully known. The disease is genetic in nature but it can also get triggered by other factors like hormones and environment.
Symptoms of SLE:
- Weakness/fatigue – feeling tired all the time
- Joint pain – Pain, stiffness and/or swelling in any of the joints. Frequently affected joints are – fingers, wrists, knees, etc. Swelling in feet, hands, legs and/or under eyes may be noticed.
- Unexplained fever – Low-grade fever due to the underlying inflammation. Fever of unknown origin, without any relevant cause.
- Butterfly shaped rash on the face – The malar rash is found in 50% of patients of SLE. The typical rash covers bridge of the nose extending to both cheeks. Rash appears and worsens on exposure to sunlight as well as artificial light (photo-sensitivity)
- Raynaud’s phenomena – Fingers, toes or tip of nose may turn white/blue from cold or stress
- Hair loss – due to inflammation of skin and scalp. Hair becomes brittle and looks ragged.
- Anemia – low hemoglobin, low total blood volume
- Pleurisy – Chest pain especially on deep inspiration and shortness of breath
- Dryness of eyes, mouth and/or vagina
Diagnosis of SLE:
Diagnosis of SLE is very difficult because it tends to mimic many other chronic diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, fibromyalgia, Sjogren’s disease, etc. Also, the presentation of SLE varies from patient to patient and it varies from day to day in the same patient.
Diagnosis can be done on the following basis:
- ANA Test (Anti Nuclear Antibody) : This test is positive in almost 99% of SLE patients, although it may be negative in patients having discoid SLE. This test is not absolutely specific for SLE as it may come positive in other non SLE cases, e.g. in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Complete Blood Count (CBC) and ESR : SLE patients show reduced Hemoglobin, low platelet count and/or low white blood cell count. Elevated ESR is not specific to SLE.
- Kidney Function Test and Urine analysis : Increased protein in urine and cellular casts in urine is an indication of inflammation in the kidneys. S. Bilirubin and S. Creatinine may be high as well.
- DNA Binding Test : Antibodies to double stranded DNA are positive in SLE patients.
Conventional Treatment for SLE:
- NSAIDs (Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen sodium are used to treat pain, swelling and inflammation in SLE patients.
- Anti malarial drugs such as hydroxychloroquine are known to control SLE, especially the discoid variety.
- Corticosteroids e.g.Prednisolone is the most commonly prescribed medicine in advanced cases of SLE. They suppress the inflammatory process but cause long term side effects like osteoporosis, weight gain, diabetes, etc.
- Immuno-suppressants like Tacrolimus, Methotraxate,etc can be given to control the flared up cases of SLE.
Homeopathic Treatment for SLE:
SLE is a chronic, auto immune, constitutional disease wherein the body’s immune system is affected. Immune system is governed by various factors like environmental, genetic, physical, mental, hormonal, etc. Homeopathic medicines are basically aimed at treating the person suffering from SLE and not just the disease per se. Symptomatic relief can be achieved with homeopathy and it is strongly suggested. It could potentially control the underlying disease process to certain extent; however, such evidence is not yet available.
Some facts about SLE:
- SLE is non contagious. It doesn’t spread by touch.
- SLE can not be transmitted by sexual intercourse
- Although there is no cure, SLE can be controlled with homeopathic medication without any side effects
- Discoid variety of SLE mostly occurs on body parts exposed to sun. Keep your body covered if at all you get exposed to sun. Staying away from sun, especially in peak hours from 11a.m. to 4p.m. is the best possible precautionary measure.
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