Systemic lupus erythematosus is known to be a life-threatening chronic autoimmune disease. As indicated by statistics, around 2 million people in the United States suffer from systemic lupus erythematosus and most of them are affected by severe forms of the disease. Lupus is characterized by dysfunctions of the immune system, which begins to attack healthy blood cells and the body’s genetic material. Instead of protecting the organism from external infectious agents, the immune system produces abnormal antibodies which cause serious damage to the entire body.
Although modern medicine hasn’t yet found a cure for systemic lupus erythematosus, the medical treatments available today can control the manifestations of the disease, preventing it from evolving. The progression of systemic lupus erythematosus can be very unpredictable. An interesting feature of the disease is the alternation between periods of remission and periods of aggravation. In the periods of remission, people with the disease have milder symptoms of lupus, only to experience severe and diversified symptoms later on, in the periods of recurrence. Lupus has a pronounced chronic character which determines the reappearance of its symptoms in time. Due to the recidivating character of the symptoms of lupus, the medical treatment is ongoing and involves frequent changes in the medication dosage.
Systemic lupus erythematosus can generate a wide variety of symptoms. Each patient with the disease can experience different symptoms of lupus, at oscillating intensities. In the initial stages of the disease, the symptoms of lupus resemble those of a cold or flu: generalized state of fatigue, body weakness, muscle and joint pain, headache, poor appetite and moderate fever. These unspecific symptoms of lupus are usually not intense and can persist for several months before they are replaced with specific symptoms of lupus: skin rashes that amplify due to exposure to the sun, lesions in the mouth and nose, joint inflammation and swelling, ongoing muscle pain, hair loss, dramatic weight loss or weight gain, chest pain when taking deep breaths. Laboratory analyses can reveal the following symptoms of lupus: abnormal numbers of blood cells (red cells, white cells or platelets), presence of malign anti-DNA antibodies in the blood, presence of antinuclear antibodies in the blood (ANA).
When the disease affects the cardiovascular system, the symptoms of lupus are: hyperactivity of the heart, accelerated pulse and high blood pressure. Many people with systemic lupus erythematosus can in time develop serious heart diseases.
When the autoimmune disease affects the nervous system, the symptoms of lupus are: states of mental confusion, poor concentration, seizures and faints. Patients can also develop psychological problems such as: depression, paranoia and mania.
The symptoms of lupus are diverse and sometimes they can become very intense. People with lupus experience different kinds of symptoms at different stages of the disease. Hence, the medical treatment for lupus is individualized, every patient receiving medications according to the experienced symptoms. It is very important to timely discover the presence of systemic lupus erythematosus in patients, in order to commence the administration of an appropriate treatment. Without proper medications and constant medical monitoring, the symptoms of lupus can become severe and the patients’ overall health can be dramatically affected.