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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
(say: sis-teh-mik lew-pus er-eh-thee-muh-toh-sis)
~hard to say....harder to live with~

Lupus is Latin for wolf,  Erythematosus means redness. In the 18th century, when lupus was just starting to be recognized as a disease, it was thought that it was caused by the bite of a wolf. This may have been because of the distinctive rash characteristic of lupus. (Once full-blown, the round, disk-shaped rashes heal from the inside out, leaving a bite-like imprint.)

Many people refer to this rash as the marlar butterfly rash.  It frequently occurs on the tops of the cheeks, across the bridge of the nose and above the eyes. This "butterfly" shape is very distinctive, and is a good indication of lupus, but is not necessary for diagnosis

Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus, commonly called lupus, is perhaps the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed disease in the history of medicine. It has been called "The great imitator" because its symptoms can mimic other, more common diseases and syndromes.  The disease, is believed to have been described by Hippocrates around 400 BC.  Lupus is not a new disease,  but has been described more in the last 150 years. Approximately 25 years ago, lupus was considered a terminal disease.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, a type of self-allergy, whereby the patient's immune system creates antibodies which instead of protecting the body from bacteria & viruses attack the person's own body tissues. This causes symptoms of extreme fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches, anaemia, general malaise, & can result in the destruction of vital organs. It is a disease with many manifestations, & each person's illness and symptoms may be different. Lupus can mimic other diseases, such as multiple sclerosis & rheumatoid arthritis, making it difficult to diagnose.

Anyone can have lupus, but it is 9 times more common in females than in males. There seem to be environmental and genetic factors that predispose an individual to lupus, but the exact causes of the disease are unknown.

Lupus tends to have a dormant, inactive stage during which the patient lives a normal, or nearly normal lifestyle. There is also an active stage, called a flare, during which the symptoms are severe, and can range from irritating to crippling.

Currently there is no single test that can definitely say whether a person has lupus or not. Only by comprehensive examination and consideration of symptoms and their history can a diagnosis be achieved.

Lupus is not contagious. There is no cure...

Lupus can be triggered...

through sunlight

at puberty

as a result of trauma

after childbirth

after viral infection

during the menopause

after a prolonged 
course of medication


The symptoms may include:

  • extreme fatigue

  • joint/muscle pain

  • eye problems

  • depression

  • mouth ulcers

  • facial or other rashes

  • miscarriage

  • hair loss

  • anaemia

  • fever

  • possible involvement of the 
    kidneys, heart, lungs & brain

There are many helpful lupus sites on the 'net.  
These are a few of my favorites.

The National Lupus Foundation
A totally comprehensive site with a wealth of information.

Lupus at Suite101.com
By Karyn Moran Holton. 
Wonderful site for information, helpful links, and support.  
Karyn is a nurse with an uplifting personality, who also has lupus... and a lot of understanding. Provides great support and info through a chat board, and informative articles.

Stories of Lupus
Two women with lupus went on the road to film a documentary on lupus and the people who live with it every day. Touching, poignant, and so true to life that you cannot read them without beginning to understand what it's like to live with lupus.

Lupus and Me...In The Company Of The Wolf