Neurological Symptoms Of Lupus

Lupus (also called systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE) is a disorder of the immune system which normally functions to protect the body against invading infections and cancers. In lupus, the immune system is over-active and produces increased amounts of abnormal antibodies that attack the patient?s own tissues. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, nervous system, and blood vessels. The signs and symptoms of lupus differ from person to person, and the disease can range from mild to life-threatening. Typical features of lupus include a butterfly shaped rash over the cheeks, a skin rash appearing in areas exposed to the sun, sores in the mouth and nose, arthritis involving one or more joints, kidney inflammation, neurological disorders such as headaches, personality changes, organic brain syndrome, peripheral neuropathies, sensory neuropathy, psychological problems including paranoia, mania, and schizophrenia, seizures, transverse myelitis, and paralysis and stroke. Fever, weight loss, hair loss, poor circulation in the fingers and toes, chest pain when taking deep breaths, and abdominal pain may also occur.

Is there any treatment?

There is no cure for lupus. Treatment is symptomatic. With a combination of medication, rest, exercise, proper nutrition, and stress management, most individuals with lupus can often achieve remission or an amelioration of symptoms that improves their quality of life. Medications used in the treatment of lupus may include aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarials, corticosteroids, and other immunosuppressants.

What is the prognosis?

The prognosis for lupus varies widely depending on the organs involved and the intensity of the inflammatory reaction. The course of lupus is commonly chronic and relapsing, often with long periods of remission. Most patients with lupus have a normal lifespan with periodic doctor visits and treatments with various drugs. Many of the more serious problems do not affect most patients. Death is usually caused by renal failure or infection.

What research is being done?

Investigators researching lupus seek to increase scientific understanding of the disorder and to find ways to treat, prevent, and ultimately, cure it. Several components of the National Institutes of Health support research on lupus.


Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, June 2000



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