Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Autoimmune Disorder
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks itself. The immune system creates a response in which it attacks is own tissues and can cause inflammation and damage of tissues. SLE affects the kidneys, blood cells, joints, brain, heart, and lungs. There is currently no cure for SLE, but there are ways to make the disease more manageable. This disease is worldwide, and it can affect any gender, any race or ethnic group, and any age. However, it is usually more prevalent in adults, women, and usually non-Caucasians (Pons, 2017). The severity of SLE usually depends on age and race.
SLE is a very vague autoimmune disease that progresses slowly and is hard to diagnose. Many believe that the cause of SLE is from either genetic, environmental, or hormonal factors (CDC, 2018). However, the exact causes are unclear. As stated before, age and race have a lot to do with the severity of lupus, as well as the chances of developing it. Other risk factors of SLE include sex and family history. Lupus may affect all ages, but usually women in their child-bearing ages between 15-44 are at a higher risk (CDC, 2018). African Americans and Latinos are also at a higher risk for developing lupus compared to Caucasians and usually women are more likely to develop the disease compared to men. The ratio is 4 to 12 women to every man are more likely to be affected by lupus (CDC, 2018). Genetics can play a role in the risk of developing lupus but usually if an immediate family member has the disease. Some of the environmental factors that may increase the risk or severity of SLE are diet, smoking, medications, pesticides, and many other factors. Although there is no clear evidence, this is what many scientists believe are some of the environmental factors that relate to lupus.
Since lupus affects the immune system, the antibodies in the immune system start to attack itself. This can cause changes in different systems such as cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, hematologic, dermatologic, gastrointestinal, ophthalmologic, and renal. This is because the T-cells and B-cells become overactive and this causes an increase in the production of autoantibodies, which are antibodies that destroy the body's own cells, which leads to inflammation and damage of tissues (JHLC, 2021).
In SLE, some of the usual signs and symptoms are fatigue, low-grade fever, pain or swelling in the joints, skin rashes, Raynaud's phenomenon, and the tell-tale sign the “butterfly” rash on the face. The butterfly rash is a malar rash that spreads from one side of the face to the other over the bridge of the nose in the shape of a butterfly. It is usually red and can be hot to the touch. It is very hard to diagnose lupus just by the signs and symptoms because it can mimic other diseases. Some call SLE a “silent killer” because of how hard it is to diagnose. As stated before, lupus affects many different systems and can cause many complications in the body. SLE can cause kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, hip destruction or avascular necrosis, cataracts, bone fractures, scarring of the skin, and pregnancy complications (JHM, 2021). Most of these complications may lead to death if they are left untreated, especially with the kidneys and the heart. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death around the world, and it is also the number one cause of death in people with lupus (JHM, 2021).
Rheumatologists use specific criteria to diagnose lupus. Although SLE is hard to diagnose just by looking at signs and symptoms, there are a few diagnostic tests that a rheumatologist may run that can aid in the diagnosis of lupus. Some of these tests include CBC, sedimentation rate and CRP which check for inflammation in the body, antibody blood tests such as ANA and usually 97% of those with lupus will test positive, anti-phospholipid, urine tests, tissue biopsies and many other blood tests (Lupus, 2021). The ANA blood test is one of the most common tests that will be checked for any autoimmune disease that affects the tissues. If the test comes back positive, you may have an autoimmune disease, and usually this test is done as a titer that gives a ratio and a pattern. The higher the ratio means that there is a high number of autoantibodies present. The pattern can help rheumatologists detect which autoimmune disease is present. There is homogeneous, speckled, nucleolar, and peripheral pattern (Shiel, 2021). Homogeneous is usually the pattern associated with SLE.