Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), is more commonly just referred to as lupus. Lupus is an illness of the immune system, a condition in which the body’s defence mechanism begins to attack itself through an excess of antibodies in the blood stream, causing inflammation and damage in the joints, muscles and other organs.
The disease may be triggered by various means and can present in a bewildering number of ways, even to the extent of mimicking other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis. The cause of lupus is not positively known, though research has provided evidence implicating genes, hormones and infections including viruses.
Lupus is a complex condition that can affect any part of the body and cause many different symptoms. The most common symptoms include; fatigue, joint and muscle pain, weakness, rashes, kidney problems, hair loss, increased risk of miscarriage, flu-like symptoms, oral/nasal ulcers and sensitivity to sunlight. With its many symptoms, lupus can often be overlooked by a GP or consultant which may delay final diagnosis and a vital start to necessary treatment that may contain the disease and limit potential damage to the kidneys, heart lungs or brain.
90% of lupus patients are female, though men and young children can also be affected by lupus. Those diagnosed usually receive ongoing treatment to lessen the impact of the many symptoms but there may be side effects. Lupus can adversely affect the lives of those with the disease and their families, and may influence relationships with friends and work colleagues.
If you would like to learn more about lupus, you can visit the LUPUS UK website at www.lupusuk.org.uk
LUPUS UK is the national registered charity supporting people with lupus and assisting those approaching a diagnosis. They have over 5,500 members, and a number of regional groups, who arrange medical talks, publish local newsletters, set up social events and organise fundraising. LUPUS UK also produces an informative national magazine and operates a strong grant programme for research, welfare and funding specialist lupus nurses.