Friday, July 15, 2016

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an inflammatory disease that is caused when the immune system mistakenly begins to attack its own tissues.  It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs.  SLE can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other conditions.  You should know though that the most distinctive sign of SLE is a facial rash that resembles the wings of a butterfly.  A good picture would be to imagine a butterfly unfolding its wings across both of your cheeks, while your nose is its body.

Some unfortunate individuals are born with a tendency toward developing SLE, which can be triggered by infections, certain medications, or just by going out into the sunlight.  While there is no cure for SLE, there are treatments that will work to control the symptoms.  The goal of your treatment with us at Total Home Health will be to reduce the number and duration of your SLE flare-ups.  Keep in mind too, that the occurrence of autoimmune disorders such as SLE, increases with age.  SLE varies in its severity and progression.  It is generally characterized by periods of flare-ups and remissions. 

SLE may be difficult to diagnose because of the vague nature of its early signs and symptoms.  Your provider will determine your specific case of SLE as either discoid, systemic, or medication-induced.  So, what do all those terms mean?  Allow Total Home Health to explain it all to you as follows:

·      Discoid SLE primarily will affect your skin and is characterized by that butterfly rash we mentioned earlier.  This type is generally self-limiting, meaning it will go away on its own without causing you much trouble.
·      Systemic SLE is more serious and will go on to affect the connective tissues of multiple organ systems, which could end up leading to major organ failure.
·      Medication-induced SLE can be caused by medications (procainamide, hydralazine, isoniazid).  This type will resolve once the medication is stopped, and it does not cause disease to occur in your renal (think kidneys) or neurologic (think brain) systems.

Now that you are familiar with what SLE is and the different types, here are some factors that place you or your loved one more at risk of developing this condition:

·      Being female between the ages of 20 and 40.
·      Being of African American, Asian, or Native American descent.
·      The incidence of SLE declines in women following menopause, but remains steady in men.
·      Diagnosis of SLE may be delayed in older adult clients because many of its clinical signs and symptoms can be mistaken for other disorders or may be associated with reports that are common with the normal aging process.

With SLE there are signs and symptoms that your provider and other members of your health care team will be looking for.  Some we may outwardly see and some may have to be found with laboratory or other diagnostic tests.  Following are some signs and symptoms of SLE:

·      Fatigue, alopecia (hair loss)
·      Blurred vision
·      Pleuritic pain (pain that occurs from inflammation of the tissues that line the lungs and chest cavity)
·      Anorexia/weight loss
·      Depression
·      Joint pain, swelling, tenderness
·      Fever
·      Anemia
·      Lymphadenopathy (a disease affective the lymph nodes)
·      Butterfly rash on face
·      Other findings that are consistent with other organs being involved (kidney, heart, lungs, etc.)

At Total Home Health we feel it is our duty to promote your health and prevent flare-ups of SLE as best as we possibly can.  At this point it is our pleasure to extend to you some education and health tips related to SLE that may be beneficial to you or your loved one.

·      Avoid UV and sun exposure and always use sunscreen when outside and exposed to sunlight.
·      Use mild shampoo and avoid harsh hair treatments.
·      Use steroid creams for skin rash.
·      Promptly report any edema of your hands, feet, or face to your provider.
·      Promptly report any evidence of infection.
·      Avoid crowds and others who are sick because illness can trigger a flare-up.

There are several laboratory studies that your provider will do in order to diagnose or rule out SLE.  From examination and interpretation of your laboratory results, your provider will then develop a treatment plan specifically for you.  Generally, your treatment plan will involve following a strict schedule of oral medications.  After your plan of care is developed, Total Home Health will then be able to make you one of our own and begin care with you in your own home.  We know that SLE can be aggravating, so let us be there for you at your most vulnerable times.  Enroll today, you will not be disappointed in the care you receive!

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