Lupus Eratosthenes is challenging to diagnose. The diagnosis is based on the symptoms that the patient has, the physical examination and the analysis.
In blood tests, the number of leukocytes, lymphocytes, and platelets is often lower than usual.
Virtually 100% of patients have antinuclear antibodies; when they are negative, the existence of this disease is practically excluded.
Other autoantibodies are more specific to lupus, such as the so-called anti-DNA or anti-Sm antibodies, whose presence makes it possible to confirm the diagnosis. The presence of antiphospholipid antibodies also helps diagnose lupus.
Lupus is a chronic disease in which the patient’s immune system attacks different organs and tissues (can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, nervous system, etc.) causing damage and inflammation.
See this lupus rash article for more info.
The most known and visible affect the skin and suffer 90% of patients. It manifests alternating periods of increased activity or more symptoms (exacerbation) with others of inactivity (remission). The attacks can be mild or severe.
Being an autoimmune disease has no cure. However, it can be controlled with drugs that can regulate the immune system and stop inflammation. Besides, the recent irruption of new biological therapies has opened new treatment routes that will improve the quality of life of patients.
What Are The Causes?
The cause of this inflammatory reaction is unknown. It is probably the result of a combination of genetic, hormonal tendencies (it is a much more frequent disease in women) and environmental factors (viruses, ultraviolet rays of sunlight, medications).
What Are The Symptoms?
Lupus is a disease that can affect several organs:
- General symptoms: tiredness, weight loss and prolonged fever, which is not due to any infectious process.
- Articular and muscular symptoms: 90% of patients with lupus have joint pain and inflammation (arthritis). The most concerned are those of the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, and toes. It is common for the patient to notice joint stiffness in the morning.
- Skin: The most well-known lesion, although not the most frequent, is the “erythema on the wings of a butterfly,” which consists of reddening and rash of the skin on the cheeks and nose. Skin lesions in lupus appear anywhere on the body and generally do not cause discomfort.
- Heart and lungs: Lupus inflames the lining membranes of the heart (the pericardium) and the lungs (the pleura), which causes pericarditis and pleuritis. Both processes have similar symptoms: pain in the chest and sometimes fever.
- Kidney: The most frequent lesion is inflammation (nephritis.) It increases the urea in blood, and proteins or blood appear in the urine. The kidney injury is asymptomatic, sometimes manifesting as fatigue or a rise in blood pressure.
- Brain: It is practically impossible to know how often the brain is affected in lupus.
- Infections: The patient with lupus is sensitive to diseases.
- The antiphospholipid syndrome: It is characterized by the appearance of thrombosis, repeated miscarriages and hematological alterations (thrombocytopenia or hemolytic anemia), associated with the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (AAF). The best known antiphospholipid antibodies are anticardiolipin antibodies and lupus anticoagulant.
Who Can Suffer It?
Lupus usually appears in people between 20 and 40 years old and is ten times more common in women than in men.
It is more common among blacks and Asians, who also tend to be more severely affected.