Lupus

Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect many parts of the body including the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs and brain. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning that it involves an attack by the body on itself. Lupus likely arises from a combination of inherited susceptibility and environmental factors such as viruses, ultraviolet light and certain medications. Symptoms of lupus can include:

  • Pain and swelling of the joints
  • Fatigue
  • Rashes
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Blood clots
  • Anemia
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Inflammation of the lining of the lungs (a condition known as pleurisy) or the lining of the heart (a condition known as pericarditis)
  • Heartburn
  • Poor circulation in the fingers and toes

A distinctive butterfly-shaped rash appears across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose in many—but not all—people with lupus. A doctor who suspects lupus will also look for signs of neurological problems and low kidney function and will order blood tests. A key test looks for antinuclear antibody (ANA), which is present in more than 95 percent of people with lupus. However, this test by itself is not conclusive because many people without lupus also have a positive ANA reading. We use a combination of medical history, physical examination and laboratory studies to make an accurate diagnosis.