Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Overview of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Meaning in Urdu

یہ ایک ایسی بیماری ہے جس کی وجہ سے مدافعتی نظام جسم کی حفاظت کرنے کے بجائے اس پر حملہ آور ہو جاتا ہے۔ مدافعتی نظام کے جسم پر حملہ آور ہونے کی وجہ سے کئی طبی علامات ظاہر ہونا شروع ہو جاتی ہیں۔ اس بیماری کی وجہ سے جوڑوں، جِلد، دماغ، گردوں، پھیپھڑوں، اور خون کی شریانوں کی سوزش کا سامنا کرنا پڑ سکتا ہے۔ اس بیماری کی بنیادی وجوہات میں جینیاتی مسائل، ماحولیاتی عناصر، ہارمونز، اور کچھ ادویات کا استعمال شامل ہے۔ یہ بیماری مردوں کی نسبت خواتین میں زیادہ عام ہے اور پندرہ سے چوالیس سال کی عمر والی خواتین کو اس کا زیادہ خطرہ ہوتا ہے۔

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Definition

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), also known as lupus, is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect multiple organs and systems in the body. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs, causing inflammation and damage. SLE can affect any body part, including the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain. There is no cure for SLE, but treatments can help manage symptoms and prevent complications.

Prevalence of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 

SLE is more common in women than men. It usually appears between 15-45 years of age. Globally, the prevalence of SLE is 43 people per 100000.


Signs and Symptoms of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Symptoms of SLE can vary widely between individuals. Some people may experience mild symptoms, while others have severe ones. Common systemic lupus erythematosus symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Skin rash, often appearing on the face (butterfly rash)
  • Fever
  • Chest pain or discomfort, especially when taking deep breaths
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Raynaud's phenomenon (fingers and toes turning white or blue in response to cold or stress)
  • Kidney problems
  • Neurological symptoms, such as seizures, confusion, or memory loss

Not all people with SLE will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary widely.


Types of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus disease can affect different organs and tissues in the body. The Systemic Lupus Erythematosus types include:

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): This is the most common type of lupus and can affect multiple organs and tissues in the body, such as the kidneys, heart, lungs, and joints. 70% of people diagnosed with lupus have SLE. 
  • Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE): This type only affects the skin, causing rashes, skin lesions, and sensitivity to sunlight. A chronic subtype, known as Discoid Lupus, affects the skin as well as other organs such as kidneys, lungs, and central nervous system. 
  • Drug-Induced Lupus Erythematosus (DILE): This type of lupus gets triggered by certain medications, such as hydralazine, procainamide, and isoniazid.
  • Neonatal Lupus Erythematosus (NLE): This is a rare form of lupus that can occur in newborn babies of mothers with SLE or Sjogren's syndrome. NLE typically causes skin rashes, liver problems, and low blood cell counts.

It's important to note that while these are different types of lupus, they can all present with similar symptoms and require medical management.


Causes of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

The exact systemic lupus erythematosus causes are unknown, but it results from genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.

  • Genetics: SLE tends to run in families, and genetic factors appear to play a significant role in its development. Scientists identified several genes that may increase the risk of developing SLE, including genes controlling the immune system and genes involved in clearing cellular debris.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to certain environmental factors may trigger the development of SLE in people who are genetically predisposed to the disease. These triggers may include infections, ultraviolet (UV) light, certain medications, and hormonal changes.
  • Hormonal factors: SLE is more common in women than men, and the disease often first appears during reproductive years, suggesting that hormonal factors may play a role in its development. Estrogen, for example, has been shown to stimulate the immune system and may contribute to the development of autoimmunity.
  • Immune system dysfunction: In people with SLE, the immune system attacks healthy tissues and organs, leading to inflammation and damage. The precise mechanisms by which this occurs are still not understood. However, it involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors that cause the immune system to become dysregulated and hyperactive.

While these factors are implicated in SLE development, the exact cause of the disease remains unknown.



Risk Factors of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

The exact cause of SLE is not yet known. Certain risk factors may increase a person's likelihood of developing the condition. These include:

  • Gender: Women are more likely to develop SLE than men.
  • Age: SLE can affect people of all ages, but it is more commonly diagnosed in individuals between 15 and 45 years of age.
  • Genetics: SLE tends to run in families, suggesting that there may be a genetic component to the disease.
  • Ethnicity: SLE is more common in people of African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, and Native American descent than in Caucasians.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to specific environmental triggers, such as ultraviolet light, infections, and medications, may increase the risk of developing SLE.
  • Hormones: Hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, may contribute to the development of SLE.

Having one or more of these risk factors does not necessarily mean that a person will develop SLE. Additionally, some people with SLE may not have any known risk factors.


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) can affect multiple organs and tissues in the body, leading to a wide range of complications. The severity and frequency of these complications can vary widely between individuals. Some people may not experience any at all. Some of the most common complications of SLE include:

  • Kidney Damage: SLE can cause inflammation and damage to the kidneys, leading to a condition called lupus nephritis. It can cause kidney failure if left untreated.
  • Cardiovascular disease: SLE increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots.
  • Respiratory problems: SLE can cause inflammation and lung damage, leading to pleurisy, pneumonitis, and pulmonary hypertension.
  • Neurological problems: SLE can affect the nervous system, leading to symptoms such as headaches, seizures, and cognitive impairment.
  • Blood disorders: SLE can cause several disorders, including anemia, thrombocytopenia, and leukopenia.
  • Joint and muscle pain: SLE can cause joint and muscle pain, stiffness, and swelling, which can be debilitating in some cases.
  • Infections: SLE can increase the risk of infections, especially in people taking immunosuppressive medications to manage their disease.
  • Pregnancy complications: SLE can increase the risk of pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, premature birth, and preeclampsia.

People with SLE need to work closely with their healthcare providers to manage their disease and prevent or minimize these complications. Regular monitoring and prompt treatment can help improve outcomes and quality of life.




Unfortunately, there is currently no known way to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus prevention. However, some steps can reduce the risk of developing the disease or manage its symptoms. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Avoid exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light: Sunlight and other UV light sources can trigger SLE flares in some people. To minimize exposure, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, wear protective clothing (long-sleeved shirts, hats, and sunglasses), and avoid being outdoors during peak sunlight hours.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of SLE and can exacerbate symptoms. Quitting smoking is the best way towards Systemic Lupus Erythematosus prevention. 
  • Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce inflammation and promote overall health.
  • Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help improve mood, reduce stress, and improve overall health.
  • Manage stress: Stress can trigger SLE flares in some people. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, or counseling, may help reduce the risk of flares.
  • Take Prescribed Medications: If you have been diagnosed with SLE, follow your doctor's prescribed treatment plan, and take all your medications as directed. 

It is also crucial to be aware of the symptoms of SLE and to seek medical attention if you experience any of them, as early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve outcomes.




Systemic Lupus Erythematosus diagnosis is based on a combination of clinical features, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. Here are some of the steps in diagnosing SLE:

  • Medical History: The doctor will first take a detailed medical history to identify any symptoms and risk factors for SLE, such as the family history of autoimmune disease, medication use, and exposure to environmental triggers.
  • Physical examination: The doctor will perform a physical exam to look for signs of inflammation, such as joint swelling and rash.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests can measure levels of antibodies and other markers that can indicate SLE. These include antinuclear antibodies (ANA), anti-double stranded DNA (dsDNA) antibodies, anti-Smith antibodies, and complement levels.
  • Urine tests: Urine tests can detect protein or blood in the urine, a sign of kidney involvement in SLE.
  • Imaging studies: Imaging studies, such as X-rays or ultrasounds, may be used to look for evidence of organ damage, such as in the lungs or heart.
  • Biopsy: In some cases, a biopsy of affected tissue, such as skin or kidney tissue, may be needed to confirm the diagnosis of SLE.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus diagnosis can be challenging, as symptoms can vary widely and mimic other conditions. A team of healthcare professionals, including rheumatologists and other specialists, may be needed to make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.


Treatment of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) | When to Consult a Doctor

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus treatment usually depends on the severity and type of symptoms present. There is no cure for SLE, but treatments can help manage symptoms, prevent organ damage, and improve quality of life.

Here are some treatment options for SLE:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These medications can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain associated with SLE.
  • Corticosteroids: These medications can help reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system in severe cases of SLE.
  • Antimalarial drugs: These medications, such as hydroxychloroquine, can help reduce disease activity, protect against organ damage, and improve skin and joint symptoms.
  • Immunosuppressants: These medications can suppress the immune system and reduce disease activity in severe cases of SLE.
  • Biologic drugs: These medications can target specific parts of the immune system that are overactive in SLE.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough rest, avoiding stress, and protecting the skin from the sun can help manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Working with a healthcare provider or specialist in treating SLE such as a Rheumatologist is crucial to develop a personalized treatment plan based on individual symptoms and needs.