Search Close Search
Page Menu

Information on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

What is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)?
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune connective tissue disease where abnormal production and deposition of autoantibodies results in systemic inflammation and tissue damage. It is a chronic disease that can have a varying presentation from mild to severe and organ-threatening. It more commonly affects women of child-bearing age.  Genetic and environmental factors may affect each person’s chances of developing SLE.

What are the symptoms of SLE?
Symptoms can vary among individuals and include inflamed joints, rashes, fatigue, inflammation of the lining of the heart or lungs (serositis), oral or nasal ulcers, alopecia, photosensitivity, abnormal blood counts, kidney involvement, neurological involvement, and blood clots.

How is SLE diagnosed?
The diagnosis of SLE is based on a combination of patient’s symptoms, physical exam findings and laboratory tests. The diagnosis is usually made by a physician or healthcare provider trained in Rheumatology.

What are some available treatments in SLE?
There are different lines of treatment used to manage SLE depending on the individual’s symptoms and extent of organ involvement.

A commonly used medicine in SLE is hydroxychloroquine. Other medicines that may be used include steroids such as prednisone, methotrexate, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, tacrolimus, voclosporin and mycophenolate mofetil. Biologic medications that target specific aspects of the inflammation pathway in SLE include belimumab, anifrolumab, and rituximab.

Other important aspects of SLE treatment that aim at preventing flares and improve the quality of life of lupus patients:

  1. Adequate rest and sleep: Getting enough rest and sleep helps manage fatigue and reduce stress on the body.
  2. Exercise and physical activity: Regular physical activity can help to reduce joint pain, improve cardiovascular health, and maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Stress management: Stress can worsen lupus symptoms, so it is important to find ways to manage stress, such as through relaxation techniques, mindfulness, or therapy.
  4. Sun protection: Exposure to sunlight can trigger flare-ups in some lupus patients, so it is important to protect yourself from the sun by wearing protective clothing and using sunscreen.
  5. Healthy diet: Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to maintain a healthy weight and support overall health.
  6. Medication management: Taking medications as prescribed and reporting any side effects to your healthcare provider is crucial for managing lupus symptoms.
  7. Regular medical check-ups: Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help to monitor disease activity and adjust treatment as needed.
  8. Support system: Connecting with other lupus patients and support groups can provide emotional support and practical tips for managing the disease.
  9. Smoking and alcohol abstinence: Smoking and alcohol consumption can worsen lupus symptoms and increase the risk of complications.
  10. Good communication with healthcare providers: Keeping an open and honest dialogue with your healthcare providers can help ensure that you receive the best possible care and treatment.

The overall goal of treatment is to bring this chronic disease under control to avoid flares and any subsequent long-term damage in the body.

It is important to note that lupus is a complex disease, and self-management strategies will vary depending on the individual and the severity of their condition. It is also important to work closely with healthcare providers to develop a self-management plan that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.