Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus is defined as an inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. The result of this hyperactive immune system is inflammation, swelling, and damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart, and lungs. For some people, the symptoms of lupus are relatively minor. For others, the disease leads to lifelong disability.

If you have lupus or think you might be experiencing symptoms of the condition, contact Dr. Susan A. Baker in Los Angeles by calling (310) 274–7770 for a consultation. In addition to being board certified in both internal medicine and rheumatology, she has also received both the “Patient’s Choice Award” and “Most Compassionate Doctor” award.

Lupus Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Common Symptoms of Lupus

There are two types of lupus:

  • Discoid lupus erthematosus (DLE)
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

DLE typically affects skin that is exposed to sunlight. It does not usually harm the internal organs. SLE is more serious than DLE. It affects both the skin and the internal organs.

While lupus affects everyone in a slightly different way, some of the most common symptoms include :

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint stiffness, swelling, or pain
  • Skin lesions from sun exposure
  • Butterfly-shaped rash on the face
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Dry eyes
  • White or bluish hands from lack of blood

For more information on lupus treatment, visit WebMD.com.

Common Causes

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system begins attacking healthy tissue in the body. The causes are thought to be a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental triggers. Some of the most common triggers are sunlight and certain medications. Sunlight typically triggers the condition in individuals who already have a genetic predisposition for the disease. Medications – including certain antibiotics, blood pressure medications, and anti-seizure mediations – can trigger lupus even in those without a genetic predisposition. However, most people’s symptoms abate when they stop taking the trigger medication.

Certain people are also at a higher risk than others for developing lupus. The three most important elements are sex, age, and race. Women more commonly develop the condition than men. Lupus is also diagnosed most often in people between the ages of 15 and 40. Finally, the disease is seen more frequently in African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Because lupus affects different people in different ways, it can be a difficult disease to diagnose. Your doctor will begin by taking your medical history and giving you a physical exam to check for signs of the disease. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a family history of lupus or any other autoimmune disease. You may also be given an antinuclear antibody (ANA) test to see if your immune system is likely to make more lupus antibodies. In addition, your doctor may take a small skin biopsy to check the tissue for signs of lupus under a microscope.

While there is no known cure for lupus, a number of treatments are available to prevent flare-ups, treat symptoms, and reduce potential organ damage. For those with mild lupus, medications such as aspirin or Advil are helpful to relieve joint pain. Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed to reduce swelling and pain in parts of the body affected by lupus. Other medications such as antimalarial drugs, BLyS-specific inhibitors, and immunosuppressive agents have also proven effective in treating symptoms. Ultimately, you will need to work with an expert rheumatologist like Dr. Baker to find the treatment program that is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What kind of doctor should I see if I have lupus?

A: Dr. Baker is a rheumatologist, which is a doctor who specializes in diseases such as lupus that affect the muscles and joints.

Q: What can I do to control my symptoms?

A: You will work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan for alleviating your symptoms. Once this is done, it is very important that you follow the treatment plan. Some of the things you will have to do in the future include limiting the time spent in certain kinds of light, eating a healthy diet, limiting stress, getting plenty of rest, and exercising moderately.

Q: Is it safe to become pregnant after being diagnosed?

A: If your lupus is under control, pregnancy is unlikely to affect the health of the baby or cause flares. However, you should speak to your doctor first and familiarize yourself with all the risks.

Contact a Los Angeles Rheumatologist

If you have lupus or think you might be at risk, you need a doctor with the skills, experience, and compassion to help you manage your condition. Dr. Susan A. Baker is one of the leading Los Angeles rheumatologists with board certification in both internal medicine and rheumatology. Don’t wait any longer. Fill out the online contact form or call (310) 274-7770 today to schedule your appointment.

Next, read about vasculitis.

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The information available on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions.