Systemic Lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a unique, complex disease with a wide scope of symptoms. It is also an elusive condition in that it affects individuals differently and often does not follow a predictable course. For example, a patient who appears to be in remission during a routine office visit can present at an emergency room the following week with a sudden stroke.
A person diagnosed with lupus may have symptoms and disease activity that are easily managed with treatment, but it is not uncommon for health care professionals to encounter a lupus patient with numerous severe symptoms that are difficult to control. No two lupus cases are alike. As a result, care of the patient with lupus erythematosus is a challenge that draws on all the resources, knowledge, and strengths the health care team has to offer. Each member of the health care team
– physician, nurse, therapist, dietitian, social worker, among others – has an important role to play in treating specific aspects of the disease and in supporting the patient to cope with his or her condition.
Today, the prognosis for people with lupus is far brighter than it was 25 years ago. Advances in research, improved treatments, a growing list of support networks and information resources, and an increased emphasis on close cooperation between the patient and the health care team mean that, for many patients, it is possible to have lupus yet remain active and involved with life, family, and work.
How The Site Is Organized
Each section of the Lupus Guide deals with a specific aspect of the disease.
- Overview – Provides a general overview of the Lupus Erythematosus, including brief discussions of the diagnosis, treatment, medications, and psychosocial aspects.
- Symptoms – Gives a system-by-system overview of the most common lupus manifestations and suggests ways to manage these symptoms. Several other key issues are also discussed, including general manifestations, pregnancy, infection, and nutrition. Not every patient will experience all of the problems and symptoms described. However, it is important for individuals with lupus to be familiar with the range of possible manifestations.
- Diagnosis – Summarizes the main laboratory tests used to diagnose lupus and to monitor a patient’s condition. These assessments include blood tests, measurements of autoimmunity, and tests for kidney disease.
- Treatment – Summarizes the main courses of treatment to control and minimize manifestation of symptoms.
- Medications – Covers the major categories of drugs currently used to control lupus symptoms: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarials, corticosteroids, immunosuppressives, and intravenous immunoglobulins. These medications can often be used successfully to treat lupus symptoms, but their potential side effects can present other problems. This section discusses each category of medication, describes its mechanism of action and use in treating lupus, and reviews the potential side effects associated with it.
- Psychosocial – Provides information on the psychosocial aspects of the disease. Because of the chronic, unpredictable, and evolving nature of lupus, patients often have to cope with serious emotional and psychosocial issues along with the physical dimensions of their illness.
- Living with Lupus – Discusses issues such as controlling flare ups, pregnancy, and sexuality as they pertain to Lupus.
While this guide is an in-depth overview of lupus and how to manage the disease, it is not intended to provide medical guidelines for diagnosing and treating lupus, nor is it intended to be all-inclusive. Specific medical advice is not provided, and the reader is urged to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to individual questions.
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