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(SLE) Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Other symptoms depend on
Diagnosing lupus is very difficult. The signs vary from person to person. No two people diagnosed are going to be the same. Lupus symptoms can fluctuate over time, and overlap with other diseases such as Polymyositis. There are a number of test used to diagnose lupus. It takes more than one to determine it fully. The combination of blood, and urine tests, signs and symptoms, and physical examination findings lead to a factual diagnosis.
Symptoms Used to
1. Butterfly Rash
2. Sunlight Triggered Rash
3. Mouth & Nasal Sores
4. Joint Swelling
5. Inflammation of the lining of the heart & lungs.
6. Urine Abnormalities
7. Seizures or Psychosis
9. Discoid Rash
10. Positive ANA
11. Other Antibody Test
Blood Count - This test can count the number of red &, white blood cells, platelets and the amount of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells. The results can verify if you have anemia, which is a common occurrence in lupus patients. A low white blood cell or platelet count can also be seen.
Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate - This form of testing determines the rate at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a test tube in an hour. When the settling rate is faster than normal it might specify a systemic disease. The sedimentation rate is different for every disease. It can also be elevated if you have lupus. This also applies to other inflammatory conditions, cancer or infection.
Kidney & Liver Assessment - Such testing can determine how well the kidneys and liver function. Lupus is known to affect the internal organs of the body.
Urinalysis - A urine sample can sometimes show an increase of protein or red blood cells, which can develop if lupus has an influence on your kidneys.
Antinuclear Antibody or (ANA) - If you should test positive for the presence of antibodies, (produced by your immune system), it will indicate an overstimulated immune system. A lot of people with lupus have a positive ANA test. There are a number of people with a positive ANA that do not have lupus. If you test positive your doctor may recommend more specific testing for evidence of other antibodies.
Chest X-ray - A chest x-ray may display abnormal shadows that can suggest fluid or inflammation in your lungs.
Echo-cardiogram - Sound waves can be used to produce a real-time image of your heart as it beats. Valves and other portions of your heart can be properly checked for any problems.
Lupus can damage your kidneys in multiple ways. When this happens treatments can vary. All of this depends on the type of damage that takes place in the kidney. It is often necessary to test a small sample of kidney tissue. This can help determine what the best treatment should be. A needle can be used, or a small incision can be done to acquire a sufficient sample.
Non - Steroidal Anti - inflammatory Drugs, or (NSAIDs) - NSAIDs, such as naproxen (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), are frequently used to treat Lupus symptoms. These are pain, swelling, and fever. More aggressive drugs, or NSAIDs are available through prescription request. Side effects of NSAIDs range from stomach bleeding, kidney problems, to the augmented risk of heart complications.
Antimalarial Drugs - Hydroxychloroquine or (Plaquenil), can help suppress lupus, and the immune system. It is also used to treat people who suffer from Malaria.There have been cases where people are allergic to this drug. It can cause the symptoms of lupus to worsen. The symptoms reduce after use of the drug has been stopped. Side effects can include an upset stomach, and on rare occasions damage to the retina of the eye. People using this drug are recommended to get their eyes checked regularly. Plaquenil is also known as a DMARDs (Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drug).
Corticosteroids - Prednisone and other types of corticosteroids can counteract the inflammation of lupus. The long- term use of these drugs can produce long-term side effects. Such as weight gain, aggressive behavior, mood swings, bruising easily, thinning bones (osteoporosis), high blood pressure, diabetes, and heighten threat of infection. The threat of side effects increases greatly with higher doses, and long term use.
Immuno Suppressants - Drugs that suppress, or subdue the immune system may be helpful in severe cases of lupus, and other auto - immune disorders. For example: Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), Azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), Mycophenolate (Cellcept), Leflunomide (Arava) and Methotrexate (Trexall). All of these are some of the most common drugs used to treat Auto - immune diseases. Side effects to these are an increased risk of infection, liver damage, decreased fertility, an increased risk of cancer. A newer medication called Belimumab or (Benlysta), also reduces lupus symptoms in some people. Some of the side effects are nausea, diarrhea and fever.
The outcome for people with Lupus / SLE has improved in recent years. How well you do depends on how severe the disease is, and how soon your diagnosed. The disease tends to be more active in people under 40, in the beginning stages of diagnoses. This is not to say their less fortunate than others. The disease will be active regardless of your age, and even through remission. People have managed to live productive lives, and still keep the diseases under control. As the future unfolds, the outcome looks brighter. Each day brings them closer to a cure.
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