Lupus is an autoimmune inflammatory condition in which your body’s defence system attacks parts of your own body. Lupus may involve only the skin (discoid lupus) or many other parts of the body (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE) such as the heart, lungs, blood and joints. SLE is seen more often in young adult population and is more likely to occur in women than men.
SLE occurs when the body identifies its own body tissue as non-self by mistake and starts making autoantibodies against it. Inappropriate immune response leads to inflammation and thus causes damage to these body tissues.
SLE may cause general symptoms such as fever, fatigue, mouth sores, hair loss, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, abnormal heart rhythm, chest pain with deep breaths, headaches, seizures, difficulty breathing, and haemoptysis. SLE also causes a characteristic butterfly shaped rash on the nose and cheeks called malar rash with exposure to the sun. A raised oval discoid rash is also seen in some cases.
For diagnosis of SLE various tests are done including blood tests, urine analysis, chest X-ray and kidney biopsy. Blood tests are most important for the diagnosis and include complete blood cell count and antibody tests such as antinuclear antibody, anti-double strand DNA and anti-phospholipid.