Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic multi system autoimmune disease with extremely variable clinical manifestations. Autoimmune disease is a disease in which the immune system attacks normal healthy tissues of the body because it gets confused and believes the healthy tissues are harmful foreign invaders. SLE is seen more commonly in women as compared to men.
Systemic lupus erythematosus can afflict many parts of the body such as the skin, joints, heart, kidneys, blood vessels and brain. Hence it exhibits variety of symptoms ranging from pain in joint, skin rash across nose, swelling of tissues, fever, muscle pain, chest pain, lymph node enlargement, shortness of breath etc. The symptoms have frequent flare ups and a phase of remission where they become mild.
The exact cause of systemic lupus erythematosus is not known but it is believed to be caused by combination of factors including genetics and environmental. Stress, exposure to sunlight, medications, and infections are also found to be triggers in development of this condition.
What Causes Systemic Lupus Erythematosus?
The etiology of systemic lupus erythematosus includes both genetic as well as environmental factors. The incidence of disease is more common in women than men. The age of onset of disease in majority of patients is between 15 to 55 years.
- Genetic factor: The disease is not yet found to be linked to a particular gene. But if someone in the family is suffering from SLE or other autoimmune disease, than the risk in siblings increases far more as compared to individual without an affected sibling.
- Environment: Environmental triggers include ultraviolet rays of sun. Sunlight exposure is known to exacerbate the symptoms. Virus infection such as Epstein Barr viral infection is also identified as a possible causative factor in development of lupus. Emotional stress and certain medicines are also known to cause systemic lupus erythematosus. Smoking can be a risk factor in increasing the risk of SLE.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus affects women more than men. The flare up of symptoms is seen more during menses and pregnancy. Many people from medical fraternity believe estrogen hormone has some link in development of the disease; however, it is yet to be scientifically confirmed.
Signs & Symptoms Of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus can affect various organs and thus the symptoms are variable and can change from time to time, depending on organ affected. It may take several months and years for the symptoms to manifest. In some cases the onset of symptoms may be sudden.
However, the most common symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus are:
- Painful joint and stiffness of joints. It is always accompanied with swelling and redness.
- Skin rash across the nose which is characteristically called butterfly rash because of its similar appearance to butterfly.
- Fever mild to moderate.
- Unexplained loss of weight.
- Severe fatigue
- Chest pain
- Irregular menses
- Hair loss
- Dryness and soreness in eyes.
- Repeated ulcers in mouth.
- Clotting problem in blood.
- Discoloration of fingers and tingling.
There are several other symptoms depending on the organ or tissue affected. For example if liver and abdominal organs are affected patient may complain of pain in abdomen, vomiting, nausea etc. Anxieties, depression, lack of concentration are commonly associated with systemic lupus erythematosus.
Natural Treatment For Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus is not a curable condition. Hence the main aim of treatment is to alleviate symptoms. The conventional treatment may vary and may depend of several factors such as the severity of symptoms, organ or part of the body involved, age of the patient, etc. However, antimalarial drugs and immunosuppressive medicines are found to be the basis of treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus.
Steroid creams are often used to treat skin problems arising from SLE. Anti inflammatory medicines are beneficial in reducing pain in joints.
Aside from the conventional treatment, home remedies also help to alleviate the morbid symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is found to be effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Curcumin an active ingredient present in turmeric helps to treat inflammation. Mix a pinch of turmeric powder in one glass of warm milk. Drink this milk daily in the morning.
- Exercise is essential even though some patients may find it difficult because of pain. A moderate exercise will reduce stiffness in joint and prevent severe fatigue.
- Ginger: It is natural remedy to reduce pain and inflammation. The anti inflammatory property is because of a substance called gingerol. Patient must include ginger in various items he is eating.
- Yoga and relaxation: Stress is one of the underlying factors for systemic lupus erythematosus. Practice yoga to reduce stress.