What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect the skin, muscles, joints, blood cells, brain, kidneys or heart. It is also referred to as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE.

Common symptoms of this condition are fever, fatigue, rashes, muscle pain, or joint pain. A combination of clinical history, physical exam, and blood tests may be used to make the diagnosis. These blood tests may include the anti-nuclear antibody (ANA), double-stranded DNA antibody,  anti phospholipid antibody, complete blood count, and sometimes other blood tests.

Treatment for lupus varies. Some people may find effective treatment with Tylenol, ibuprofen, or aspirin, but sometimes prescription medications are used. These include corticosteroids (for example prednisone) and antimalarial medicine such as Plaquenil.  Sometimes more specialized medications that suppress the immune system are used (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, azathioprine).