SLE: What is it?

by | Jul 8, 2017 | Lupus Blog | 0 comments

What is SLE?   SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) is also known as Lupus.  It is an autoimmune disease where our immune system becomes compromised due to cumulative false signaling that triggers it to become self-destructive.

Normally, the immune system fights off dangerous infections and bacteria to keep the body healthy. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system gets confused and attacks your body thinking that your own bodies are the enemy.  

SLE or Lupus is just one of many autoimmune conditions.

The term lupus has been used to identify a handful of immune diseases that have similar clinical presentations and laboratory markers. However, SLE is the most common type of lupus. Lupus and SLE are one of the same.  

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)  is a chronic disease that can have phases that vary in severity and can be very temperamental.   There are times of worsening symptoms that alternate with periods of mild symptoms. While it can pose some challenges at times, most people with SLE are able to live a normal life with treatment.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, approximately 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with lupus. The foundation speculates that the number of people who actually have the disease is much higher and that many cases are undiagnosed.

Recognizing symptoms:

  • severe fatigue
  • joint pain
  • joint swelling
  • Fever
  • headaches
  • a rash on the cheeks and nose, “butterfly rash” or malar rash
  • hair loss- alopecia
  • anemia
  • blood-clotting problems
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon- when fingers become white or blue and tingling when cold.

Other symptoms depend on the part of the body the disease is attacking, such as the digestive tract, the heart, lungs, kidneys, or the skin.  You can find more information about Lupus Symptoms here.


Causes of SLE

The exact cause of SLE is unknown,  but several factors have been associated with the disease:


The disease isn’t linked to a specific gene, but people with lupus often have family members with other autoimmune conditions.


Environmental triggers can include:

  • ultraviolet rays- Sunlight or fluorescent lights
  • certain medications
  • Viruses or bacteria
  • physical or emotional stress
  • Trauma
  • Toxin exposure

Sex and hormones

SLE is more common among women than men. It’s common for women to experience more severe symptoms during and post pregnancy as well as during their menstrual cycles.

Such relationships have led some medical professionals to believe that the female hormone estrogen may play a role in causing it. However, more research is needed to validate this theory.

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