Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lupus can damage any part of the body

     SLE lupus can damage any part of the body at anytime, which means that there are many specialists used together to treat patients.  This team of doctors should work together when organ or multiple organ involvement has occurred.  Having lupus means a lot of tests being done to check if or on organ involvement, if certain tests show an organ is being attacked by SLE then a specialist of that specific part of the body will be referred. 

How Lupus Affects the Body

How Lupus Affects The Body 300x299 How Lupus Affects the BodyIn people with lupus, the immune system begins to recognize and attack the body’s own tissues. This phenomenon is similar to “friendly fire” and causes inflammation in various parts of the body. It is important to realize, however, that lupus can affect different people in different ways and that signs and symptoms can come and go, producing periods of flares and remission. The following articles provide an introduction to how lupus may affect different parts of the body.
  • Antiphospholipid Antibodies Antiphospholipis antibodies are antibodies directed against phosphorus-fat components of your cell membranes called phospholipids, certain blood proteins that bind with phospholipids, and the complexes formed when proteins and phospholipids bind. Approximately 50% of people with lupus possesses these antibodies, and over a twenty-year period of time, one half of lupus patients with one of these antibodies—the lupus anticoagulant—will experience a blood clot.
  • Arthritis “Arthritis” is a broad term used to describe inflammation of the joints. There are many subsets of arthritis, but the arthritis seen in lupus closely resembles rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cardiovascular System Lupus can affect the cardiovascular system, which includes your heart and blood vessels. In fact, cardiovascular disease, not lupus itself, is the number one cause of death in people with SLE. Therefore, it is very important that you take steps to maintain optimal cardiovascular health.
  • Immune System in lupus and other autoimmune diseases, the immune system begins to recognize and attack “self.” In other words, the cells of the immune system begin to injure the body’s own tissues. This phenomenon is similar to “friendly fire” and can cause permanent scarring that ultimately jeopardizes the function of certain organs and systems in the body. Certain cells and processes of the immune system have been identified as playing a role in lupus.
  • Kidneys About one half of people with lupus experience kidney involvement, and the kidney has become the most extensively studied organ affected by lupus.
  • Lungs About 50% of people with SLE will experience lung involvement during the course of their disease. Five main lung problems occur in lupus: pleuritis, acute lupus pneumonitis, chronic (fibrotic) lupus pneumonitis, pulmonary hypertension, and “shrinking lung” syndrome.
  • Nervous System Lupus can affect both the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system. Lupus may attack the nervous system via antibodies that bind to nerve cells or the blood vessels that feed them, or by interrupting the blood flow to nerves. Conditions associated with or sometimes seen in lupus include cognitive dysfunction, fibromyalgia, headaches, organic brain syndrome, and CNS vasculitis.
  • Skin Most people with lupus experience some sort of skin involvement during the course of their disease. In fact, skin conditions comprise 4 of the 11 criteria used by the American College of Rheumatology for classifying lupus. There are three major types of skin disease specific to lupus and various other non-specific skin manifestautions associated with the disease.
  • Specialists Who Treat Lupus Patients
    In addition to muscles and joints, lupus also commonly affects the skin, kidneys, heart, nervous system, and blood cells. That’s why a lupus treatment team will often include the following specialists:
  • Dermatologists. These medical specialists can deal with lupus-related skin disease. Lupus can cause a serious rash called "discoid lupus" that flares up with exposure to the sun. Your dermatologist may perform a skin biopsy to diagnose a lupus rash, prescribe medication, and advise you on proper sunscreen use.
  • Nephrologists. These are specialists who treat patients with kidney disease, a common complication of systemic lupus. A nephrologist may perform a kidney biopsy and will work with your rheumatologist to manage kidney disease.
  • Cardiologists. People with lupus have a higher risk of heart disease and may develop inflammation around the heart or in the valves inside the heart, and in that case a person with lupus would be referred to a cardiologist.
  • Neurologists. Lupus can also involve the nervous system to varying degrees. Symptoms of nervous system lupus may include headaches, seizures, and psychiatric disturbances. A neurologist can help determine which symptoms are caused by lupus and which could be due to other health problems.
  • Hematologists. These specialists deals with problems involving the blood. The majority of people with lupus have some type of blood abnormalities, such as decreased numbers of white and red blood cells or problems with blood clotting.
  • High risk obstetricians. For women with lupus who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant, an obstetrician is a critical member of the team. While it is possible to become pregnant when you have lupus, the pregnancy is considered high risk, requiring an obstetrician with special training and experience.
Treating Lupus Patients: Other Healthcare Professionals Who Treat Lupus
Working along with your doctors will be a number of other healthcare professionals who play important roles in lupus treatment. They include:
  • Nurses. Registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, and nurse practitioners can all be important members of your care team. A nurse can assist in many areas of your treatment, whether that means serving as a link between you and your doctors, or being an excellent educational resource for you.
  • Occupational and physical therapists. These healthcare professionals can help you maintain fitness and mobility, advise you on how to manage lupus symptoms, and help you manage everyday activities despite lupus.
  • Psychologists, psychiatrists, or counselors. Living with lupus can be stressful. A mental health professional can help you adjust to the emotional challenges of having a chronic disease.
  • Dieticians and nutritionists. For lupus patients, it is important to maintain a healthy diet. This may include watching your salt intake and keeping your cholesterol low. A dietician or nutritionist can offer diet information and advice tailored to your specific needs.
  • Social workers and patient advocates. School problems, financial issues, your job, and your health insurance are all areas that can become complicated and even overwhelming when you are trying to deal with a chronic disease like lupus. These professionals can be a great help when you're in need of someone to turn to about such issues.
Lupus patients today are living healthier and more active lives than ever before. But lupus is still a chronic, complicated disease that is best treated by a team of doctors and professionals who work together. And studies show that people who are best able to cope with a chronic illness are those who educate themselves about their condition, work closely with their medical team, and take an active role in their medical care.
  • It may take some time for a person to be definitively diagnosed with lupus. During this time, you may be confused or frustrated by the seeming inability of the doctors you visit to confirm the diagnosis. Part of the difficulty, both for the patient and the doctor, rests in the fact that the diagnosis may seem to be hiding in a forest of confusing, vague, or changeable symptoms.
    A rheumatologist is a specialist who treats autoimmune diseases as well as problems with joints, muscles and bones. These are board certified doctors who treat lupus. Local lupus agencies have a list of local doctors who treat lupus and other autoimmune diseases.
    You can contact the alliance for a group in your area or you can go to this directory: American College of Rheumatology
    If you would like to find a Dermatologist in your area, go to this directory: American Academy of Dermatology
    With so many manifestations of lupus you may need to see many different specialists to treat your disease. Here is a list and explanation of medical specialty areas.
    Cardiologist: a doctor who can diagnosis and treat problems with the heart and blood vessels.
    Dermatologist: specializes in treatment of the skin and skin disorders.
    Endocrinologist: diagnoses and treats the diseases caused by gland and hormone problems, like diabetes and thyroid disease.
    Gastroenterologist: treats aliments of the digestive tract as well as diseases of the esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder and intestines.
    Hematologist: One who specializes in the treatment of blood disorders.
    Internist: A physician who specializes in diagnosis and treatment, as opposed to surgery and obstetrics, of diseases of the internal organs.
    Nephrologist: A physician that specializes and treats kidney disease.
    Neurologist: A specialist who treats conditions involving the brain and the nervous system.
    Oncologist: A doctor who specializes in treating cancer.
    Opthalmologist: A doctor who specializes in the treatment of the eyes and eye-related disorders.
    Otolaryngologist: This doctor specializes in treating ear, nose, throat, head, and neck problems.
    Orthopedist: Corrects and prevents disorders of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
    Pathologist: One who is well versed in detecting changes in tissues.
    Psychiatrist: A physician who is trained to treat mental and neurotic disorders and the changes that occur with them.
    Psychologist: a person who specializes in the mental processes and their effect on behavior. They can help the patient, or the patient’s family cope with problems, disease, sudden illness and accidents.
    Pulmonologist: A doctor who concentrates on lung problems such as asthma.
    Rheumatologist: An internist who has additional training to treat problems involving the joints, muscles and bones as well as autoimmune diseases.
    Before a diagnosis is made, many of a patient’s primary needs are emotional. A lupus patient will, in all likelihood, be on intimate terms with her or his symptoms long before their cause is known. Realistically, she or he is the best authority on these symptoms. A patient may feel frustrated if, after describing symptoms, others do not respect her or his knowledge or do not share the conviction that something is wrong. If the doctor, family, or friends are unsupportive, the patient’s fear, anger, and sense of isolation will only increase. These feelings add stress, which in turn can exacerbate the disease.
    Health professionals can help ease these feelings by showing empathy during this difficult time and by reassuring the patient that the symptoms are real and merit serious attention. In addition, treating the patient as a whole person, and not just as a subject with a disease, can be immensely valuable in establishing a trusting relationship with the patient. Such a relationship will help the patient speak freely about symptoms or concerns that she or he may have been unwilling to discuss previously.


  1. Just wanted to share that I saw a Chinese acupuncturist, 25 yrs. experience, licensed in chinese medicine, on Saturday not thinking it would really help with my chronic, foot, hand, and back/hip pain and walked out of there amazed at how good I felt and continue to may want to try it as I cannot believe how much it helped me...I am going back in two weeks!!! She helped more than my other Dr.'s have with my pain!!

  2. Lupysue, That is great!! I having been thinking about acupuncture, thanks for sharing your experience!