Systemic Lupus Erythematous Essay

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Systemic Lupus Erythematous Systemic lupus erythematous, more commonly known as lupus, is an autoimmune disease, occurring when the immune system attacks healthy tissue within the body. It can affect many different body systems, including skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs (Systemic Lupus Erythematous). Lupus is a chronic disorder and its symptoms can range anywhere from mild to very severe and can last a lifetime. Lupus can be very difficult to diagnose because it is different for everyone and usually mimics the signs and symptoms of other diseases (MayoClinic, 1998). It is uncertain of the primary cause of systemic lupus erythematous, although it is thought that genetics play a big role in whether or not a person develops it. If a person is genetically capable of developing lupus, environmental factors can trigger it (WebMD, 2005). For example, exposure to sunlight could bring on lupus lesions on the skin or trigger an internal response (MayoClinic, 1998). Also, certain medications, such as anti-seizure medications, high-blood pressure medicines, or antibiotics have been known to trigger lupus in susceptible people and it goes away once the person stops taking the medication (MayoClinic, 1998). Systemic lupus erythematous affects women much more than men. Also, it seems to affect those of African-American, Hispanic, or Asian backgrounds more so than other races (MayoClinic, 1998). Lupus can appear at any stage during one’s lifetime, generally between the ages of ten and fifty. Chances of getting lupus can be increased by exposure to certain chemicals, smoking, a family history of lupus, and some infections such as hepatitis C or cytomegalovirus (WebMD, 2005). Symptoms of systemic lupus erythematous can vary from person to person, and can alternate from very mild to extremely severe (MayoClinic, 1998). The most common symptoms of systemic lupus erythematous cases are extreme fatigue, skin rashes, and joint pain. About seventy percent of people with lupus report that joint and muscle pain was their first sign of the disease. Joints will generally appear red and warm and may become swollen. It is common to experience morning stiffness along with the joint and muscle pain. It is also common to experience Raynaud’s phenomenon, which is when the hands or feet turn white or blue and become tingly and cold to the touch. Other symptoms associated with lupus are sensitivity to light, hair loss, weight loss, mouth sores, chest pain, fever, and swollen lymph nodes (WebMD, 2005). Lupus has many potential complications. Most commonly, it leads to arthritis, usually in the fingers, hands, wrists, or knees (Systemic Lupus Erythematous). Lupus can also cause serious damage to the kidneys; kidney failure is one of the main causes of death in people diagnosed with lupus. Signs of these kidney complications are general itching, vomiting, chest pain, and edema (leg swelling). Lupus could also affect the brain, resulting in headaches, dizziness, behavior changes, hallucinations, stokes, or seizures, and often leads to memory problems and difficulty in expressing thoughts. Lupus also has the ability to affect the blood and blood vessels in the body. This creates problems such as anemia, blood clotting, or inflammation of the blood vessels. Lupus can affect the lungs by increasing the chance of the chest cavity lining to become inflamed, making breathing painful. There is also a chance that lupus could affect the heart, causing inflammation of the heart muscle, arteries, or heart membrane. This greatly increases the chances of heart disease and heart attacks. Other complications associated with lupus include an increased risk of infections, cancer, and pregnancy complications (MayoClinic, 1998). It is also common for people with lupus to develop anxiety or depression (WebMD, 2005). It can very difficult to diagnose lupus, considering that it varies from person to person and the symptoms can change…