The Overview of Lupus Disease

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'My Lupus was literally a matter of life-or-death”, Said Selena Gomez, a celebrity who had been diagnosed with lupus. In 2017, This young singer announced on Instagram that she had a kidney transplant due to complications from Lupus. Now she has returned to the limelight as she sings in her new song “I’ve been running through the jungle; I’ve been crying with the wolves” (the word ‘lupus’ means ‘wolf’ in Latin).

Systemic lupus erythematosus ('lupus' or ‘SLE’) is one of the autoimmune diseases, which is also known as undead cancer, for although this disease may not directly cause death, it is extremely difficult to cure, and patients often suffer from it for life. So, what is SLE, and how to treat it? This article may answer these questions.

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SLE is an autoimmune disease. Immune system is like a health guard in human bodies. When 'foreign enemies' such as bacteria and viruses invade, the system will release an alarm and destroy thees 'enemies'. However, for some people, their immune systems are abnormal, and they attack the body’s own tissue and organs because the systems confuse them for something foreign, which is also the cause of most other autoimmune diseases. The main symptoms of SLE are:

  1. Rash. About 80% of patients may develop various rashes during the course of the disease. The most typical symptom is butterfly-shaped rush on the cheeks and nasal bridge. Some patients may experience redness of the skin when exposed to the sun.
  2. Joint pain. More than 60% of patients suffer from joint pain on finger, wrist, knee, etc.
  3. Hair loss. SLE may cause excessive hair loss, especially in a short period of time, which is the result of inflammation. This kind of inflammation can also lead to loss of eyebrows, beards and eyelashes, but it is reversible if SLE can be treated successfully.
  4. Unusual urine. The patients’ urine may be foamy or have a red color.

If two or more of the above symptoms occur, one should be more vigilant against SLE and go to the hospital for a professional diagnosis soon.

A diagnosis of SLE is made based on not only symptoms, but also a physical examination and blood tests, including anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) test, anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibody test, anti-Ro antibody test, antiphospholipid antibody test, complement level test, kidney and liver function tests, etc. These tests can also be helpful in monitoring the condition after diagnosis – for example, a combination of higher levels of anti-dsDNA and falling complement levels (often accompanied by a high ESR test) is helpful in predicting a flare-up of lupus. If the C-reactive protein (CRP), another measure of inflammation, is raised, your doctor would also consider whether you have an infection.

Except for congenital genetic factors, acquired factors are also important reasons for the onset of SLE. In addition to early diagnosis and regular treatment, patients also need to quit smoking and drinking, stop staying up late, release oneself from high stress, and avoid overwork.

The current research suggests that SLE cannot be cured, but the vast majority of patients can control the disease through drugs. The ideal state is to gradually reduce to a smaller dose for long-term maintenance following the doctor’s advice. But even so, regular re-examination is required. SLE patients must not take it upon themselves to reduce the dose or stop taking medicine, which may cause organ failure and even endanger life.

The signs and symptoms of SLE vary among affected individuals. Therefore, professional doctors evaluate the diagnosis and develop individualized treatments for each patient. Support groups also help them to learn effective strategies for living with SLE.

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The Overview of Lupus Disease. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“The Overview of Lupus Disease.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
The Overview of Lupus Disease. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
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