Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the body’s own healthy cells and thus triggers an inflammatory reaction, which can lead to damage to organs.
With SLE, any organ system can potentially be affected. A characteristic feature of SLE is the formation of numerous autoantibodies. The partially scarring, reddened skin lesions that occur when the skin is affected gave the disease its name (lupus Latin for wolf), as they seem to eat up the flesh “as a wolf would do”.
Sufferers with SLE describe very different symptoms. Most often there is a pronounced fatigue (fatigue), migrating joint pain (oligoarthralgias), dryness of the mucous membranes (Sicca symptomatology), hair loss and recurrent canker sores in the mouth. The typical “butterfly exanthema” on the face occurs in about one third of patients. It is a raised, symmetrical redness of both cheeks with a connection over the bridge of the nose and on the forehead. In more than 50 percent of those affected, there is an attack of the kidneys.
The disease can be intermittent or (less often) permanently active. The aim of the treatment is to keep the activity of the disease as low as possible and to use small amounts of glucocorticosteroids (GCS). The rapid detection of kidney disease and other vital organs is especially important, as early and correct treatment prevents complications. The severity of the disease in terms of organ manifestations and strength is very individual, which makes the therapy very different. Some symptoms such as fatigue (tiredness) and Sicca symptomatology (dryness of mucous membranes) are difficult to treat. SLE, with its diverse forms of manifestation and the appearance of autoantibodies, is the prototype of an autoimmune disease and belongs to inflammatory connective tissue diseases (collagenoses).
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