Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

What is lupus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as SLE, or simply lupus, is a disease that is characterized by periodic episodes of inflammation of and damage to the joints, tendons, other connective tissues, and organs, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and skin. The heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain are the organs most affected. Lupus affects each individual differently and the effects of the illness range from mild to severe. Lupus is an autoimmune disease. About 1.5 million people have a form of lupus. It is much more common in women of childbearing age, especially African-American women.

What are the symptoms of lupus?

The following are the most common symptoms of lupus. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Malar rash. A rash shaped like a butterfly that is usually found on the bridge of the nose and the cheeks.
  • Discoid rash. A raised rash found on the head, arms, chest, or back.
  • Fever
  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Sunlight sensitivity
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Fluid around the lungs, heart, or other organs
  • Kidney problems
  • Low white blood cell or low platelet count
  • Raynaud phenomenon. A condition in which the blood vessels of the fingers and toes go into spasm when triggered by factors such as cold, stress, or illness.
  • Weight loss
  • Nerve or brain dysfunction
  • Anemia

The symptoms of lupus may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is lupus diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, lupus may be diagnosed by symptoms and by blood tests for antibodies specific for the disease. The course of the disease ranges from mild to severe and most people have periods of increased symptoms called flares.

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Bone Health Program

Certain illnesses and medications can affect the strength and density of a child’s bones. We created the Bone Health Program to help all young patients maintain strong bones and reduce the risk of broken bones (fractures) and other injuries.

Rheumatology

The Division of Rheumatology aims to improve the health and quality of life for children with rheumatic diseases and musculoskeletal disorders through comprehensive, patient-focused care, including testing, treatment, and patient and family education programs.

Nephrology

Learn how our highly skilled team works across divisions to treat kidney disease in children.

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