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LUPUS (SLE)

What You Need To Know
WHAT IS LUPUS?

Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body. In lupus, the immune system becomes overactive and mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs. The exact cause of lupus is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors.

It's important to note that lupus is a complex systemic autoimmune disease and can affect multiple organ systems, leading to a wide range of symptoms. Each individual with lupus may experience a unique combination of symptoms and disease manifestations.

Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and pregnancy complications.

DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis of lupus involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and various laboratory tests, including blood tests and sometimes imaging studies or biopsies.

ANTIBODIES ASSOCIATED WITH LUPUS

There are several blood tests that are commonly used to help diagnose and monitor lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) and its activity. These tests help detect certain antibodies and other markers that are often present in individuals with lupus. Here are some of the key blood tests associated with lupus:

  • Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA): ANA testing is frequently used as an initial screening test for lupus. The presence of ANAs indicates an autoimmune response and is found in the majority of people with lupus. However, a positive ANA does not necessarily mean a person has lupus, as it can be present in other autoimmune conditions as well.

  • Anti-dsDNA Antibodies: These antibodies specifically target double-stranded DNA, which is often found in higher levels in individuals with active lupus. Anti-dsDNA antibody testing is used to help confirm the diagnosis and monitor disease activity.

  • Anti-Sm Antibodies: Anti-Smith (Sm) antibodies are highly specific to lupus. Their presence can support the diagnosis of lupus, particularly in combination with other clinical and laboratory findings.

  • Anti-Ro (SSA) and Anti-La (SSB) Antibodies: These antibodies are associated with certain lupus symptoms, such as photosensitivity and neonatal lupus. They may also be found in individuals without lupus, but their presence can help support a diagnosis.

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SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired or exhausted, even after restful sleep.

  • Joint and Muscle Pain: Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, often accompanied by muscle aches.

  • Skin Rash: A characteristic butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose (malar rash), although lupus can cause other types of skin rashes as well.

  • Photosensitivity: Increased sensitivity to sunlight or artificial light, resulting in a rash or flare-up of symptoms.

  • Kidney Problems: Lupus can affect the kidneys, leading to inflammation (nephritis) and impairing their function.

  • Fever: Unexplained fever that may come and go.

  • Chest Pain and Breathing Difficulties: Inflammation of the lining surrounding the lungs (pleurisy) or inflammation of the heart (pericarditis) may cause chest pain and difficulty breathing.

  • Raynaud's Phenomenon: Fingers and toes turning white or blue in response to cold or stress.

  • Cognitive Dysfunction: Memory problems, confusion, or difficulty concentrating, commonly referred to as "lupus fog."

  • Hair Loss: Patchy hair loss or thinning of the hair.

CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT

Treatment for lupus aims to manage symptoms, reduce inflammation, and prevent flares.

It typically involves a combination of medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and antimalarial drugs. 

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CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH
LUPUS

Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) is an autoimmune disease that can affect various systems and organs in the body. Individuals with lupus are at an increased risk of developing certain associated conditions, which can occur concurrently or as a result of the underlying autoimmune process. Here are some commonly associated conditions with lupus:

  • RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS (RA): RA is another autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the joints. It shares some similarities with lupus, and it's not uncommon for individuals to have both conditions.

  • SJOGREN'S SYNDROME: Sjögren's syndrome is characterised by dryness of the eyes and mouth due to inflammation and dysfunction of the salivary and tear glands. It often coexists with lupus, and both conditions involve the immune system attacking healthy tissues.

  • ANTIPHOSPHOLIPID SYNDROME (APS): APS is an autoimmune disorder characterised by abnormal blood clotting, leading to an increased risk of blood clots in veins and arteries. It frequently occurs alongside lupus and can increase the risk of complications such as deep vein thrombosis and stroke, and increase risk of miscarriage.

  • RAYNAUD'S PHENOMENON: Raynaud's phenomenon causes the fingers and toes to turn white or blue in response to cold temperatures or stress. It can occur in isolation or as a part of lupus or other autoimmune conditions.

  • VASCULITIS: Vasculitis is inflammation of blood vessels, which can occur in various sizes and organs. In lupus, vasculitis can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, and other organs, leading to damage and complications.

  • THYROID DISORDERS: Conditions such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) are more common in individuals with lupus compared to the general population.

  • LUPUS NEPHRITIS:  Lupus nephritis is kidney inflammation that occurs in a significant number of individuals with lupus. It can lead to impaired kidney function and may require specific treatment approaches.

  • CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: Lupus is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, strokes, and heart valve abnormalities. This risk may be influenced by factors such as chronic inflammation, kidney involvement, and certain medications used in the treatment of lupus.

  • OSTEOPOROSIS:  Individuals with lupus may be at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition characterised by weakened bones, due to factors such as inflammation, hormonal changes, and long-term use of corticosteroids.

HOW WE CAN HELP YOU

A Functional Medicine Approach to Lupus

Our approach to lupus involves addressing the underlying imbalances and triggers that contribute to the development and progression of the disease. We focus on understanding the unique factors that influence an individual's health and aims to restore balance and support the body's natural healing mechanisms. We can help youmanage symptoms, reduce inflammation, and improve your overall well-being.

  • COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT: We take into account an individual's medical history, genetic factors, lifestyle, environmental exposures, and unique symptom presentation to develop personalised treatment plans. These plans may include dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, targeted supplementation, and stress management strategies.

  • OPTIMISING GUT HEALTH: The gut plays a crucial role in immune function, and addressing gut health can be beneficial in managing autoimmune conditions like lupus. We may assess and address gut dysbiosis (imbalances in gut bacteria), leaky gut syndrome, and food intolerances that can contribute to inflammation and immune dysregulation.

 

  • DIET AND NUTRITION: An anti-inflammatory diet tailored to the individual's needs is a cornerstone of functional medicine for lupus. This typically involves avoiding trigger foods that may worsen symptoms and incorporating nutrient-dense, whole foods that support immune health and reduce inflammation. Specific dietary approaches, such as an autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet or elimination diet, may be recommended to identify food sensitivities and reduce symptom triggers.

  • DETOXIFICATION AND IDENTIFYING ENVIRONMENTAL TRIGGERS: We understand the influence of environmental toxins on overall health. Reducing exposure to environmental toxins, supporting the body's detoxification pathways, and addressing any toxic burden can be part of a functional medicine approach to lupus. 

  • STRESS MANAGEMENT: Stress can exacerbate lupus symptoms, so stress management techniques are an important aspect of functional medicine. This may include mindfulness practices, relaxation techniques, counseling, and support in managing the emotional impact of living with a chronic condition. 

  • IMPROVING SLEEP: Restorative sleep is vital for immune function and overall well-being. We may evaluate sleep patterns and provide recommendations for improving sleep quality, such as sleep hygiene practices and stress reduction techniques

  • EXERCISE AND MOVEMENT: Regular physical activity, tailored to an individual's abilities, can help reduce inflammation, improve cardiovascular health, and enhance overall well-being. We may provide guidance on suitable exercise programs that support lupus management.

To take a proactive role in managing your health, we encourage you to reach out to our team. We have extensive experience assisting individuals with complex conditions such as lupus.

SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT WITH US TODAY. 

 

 We offer a range of appointments in-person or online. 
You will receive the same service and expertise from us through our virtual, online clinic, just as you would if you visited us at our London clinic.

To discuss how we can assist you, call us on 020 3886 1339, or email us at  hello@autoimmunecliniclondon.com.

 

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