Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

There is a good chance that SLE or “lupus” was the illness that introduced your doctors to the field of rheumatology.

It is the quintessential autoimmune illness, bringing challenges for both patients and doctors in diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring.

An immune regulation problem results in the production of abnormal immune complexes that can travel almost anywhere in the bloodstream, depositing in tissues and triggering inflammation. As a result, lupus can become active throughout the body, from the skin to the musculoskeletal system to organs.

Symptoms of Lupus

Lupus symptoms can come on suddenly or develop slowly, not to mention they can also be temporarily or permanent. Generally, people with lupus have a mild case of the disease that causes flare-ups, which is when symptoms worsen and then improve for a period of time. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain and shortness of breath
  • Headaches and confusion
  • Joint stiffness, swelling, and pain
  • Butterfly-shaped facial rash appearing on cheeks and nose
  • Skin lesions caused by sun exposure sensitivity

How is Lupus Diagnosed?

Lupus presents itself in many different ways, and therefore, diagnosis can be tricky. Symptoms of lupus can mimic other health problems, so a rheumatologist must rule out other illnesses before making a final diagnosis. It is based on clinical imaging tests as well as laboratory and biopsy results, and without a doubt, there is no substitute for an experienced rheumatologist looking at the whole picture. Before your appointment, be prepared to answer questions the doctor may have for you, including:

  • When did symptoms begin, and do they come and go?
  • Does anything trigger the symptoms?
  • Do any of your immediate family members have lupus?
  • Are there any medications or supplements being taken?

Lupus Treatment

Lupus changes over time and everyone responds to treatment differently. As such, caring for patients with lupus requires vigilance and attention to detail. The goal of treatment is to limit inflammatory injury to tissues, using a broad range of therapeutic options, from simple anti-inflammatory medicines to “immune modulating” therapy that slows the immune response to “cytotoxic” treatments that kill immune cells. The stronger the medicine, the higher the risk, and a big part of managing lupus involves determining the appropriate approach for the current disease state.

Although most people with lupus require regular doctor visits and must take medications, a healthy lifestyle has a huge impact on the disease course and needs to be the foundation on which medical intervention is built. If you think you or a loved one may be showing signs of lupus, please contact Carolina Arthritis today to schedule an appointment with one of our rheumatologists.

Oct 11, 2017

Live Well: How to Support your Partner after an Arthritis Diagnosis

healthy-living-tips-how-to-support-your-partner-after-arthritis-diagnosis

The best medicine after receiving an arthritis diagnosis can be a strong and healthy relationship’s support. Studies show that arthritis patients in a contented relationship had less pain and psychological disability. So how can you support your companion and keep your partnership strong? Try these tips to help improve a struggling relationship, or further strengthen […]

Read More »

Sep 21, 2017

Live Well: 7 Tips That Will Keep you Gardening

healthy-living-tips-continuing-favorite-outdoor-activities-with-arthritis

Stress relief, sunshine, a sense of accomplishment, fresh air—these are just some of the many benefits from gardening. Unfortunately, if you suffer from arthritis, your favorite hobby can become your worst enemy. Simply carrying essential tools or moving between beds can be a challenge. Don’t let arthritis pain force you to give up your green […]

Read More »

Sep 15, 2017

Introducing Dr. Daniel DeLo

introducing-dr-daniel-delo-carolina-arthritis-physician

Carolina Arthritis is extremely excited to welcome Dr. Daniel DeLo to our team. Dr. DeLo was raised in Morgantown, West Virginia and received his undergraduate and medical degrees from West Virginia University. He’s comfortable treating a wide variety of rheumatology issues, but has a special interest in autoimmune diseases such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic […]

Read More »