SLE is usually treated by a rheumatologist, who may also refer the patient to other specialists depending on the organs affected.
2. What is the prognosis of patients with SLE?
Some patients with SLE have a benign course while others may suffer from a rapidly progressive disease. The condition may be fatal in some, though the number of deaths caused due to the disease has reduced in the recent years, probably due to earlier diagnosis and effective treatments.
3. Can SLE affect pregnancy?
SLE during pregnancy has been associated with complications like spontaneous abortion, premature labor, preeclampsia, eclampsia (seizures due to high blood pressure), and fetal growth restriction and death. In addition, a higher incidence of postpartum bleeding, venous clots in the mother, and neonatal lupus in the baby have also been noted. Drugs like corticosteroids (prednisolone, prednisone or / and methylprednisolone), azathioprine, hydroxychloroquine and low-dose aspirin are permitted during pregnancy while mycophenolate mofetil, cyclophosphamide, and methotrexate cannot be used to treat SLE during pregnancy.
Since SLE is an autoimmune disease with a genetic predisposition, it is usually not possible to prevent it. The manifestations can however be controlled with healthy lifestyle practices including avoiding smoking, avoiding exposure to sunlight and treating infections early. An early diagnosis and institution of treatment can help to reduce complications.
5. What is drug-induced lupus?
Drug-induced lupus refers to symptoms of lupus that appear due to the intake of medications like hydralazine, procainamide, quinidine, isoniazid, diltiazem, and minocycline. The symptoms usually resolve days to months after the drug is stopped.
6. What is neonatal lupus?
Neonatal lupus is a rare form of autoimmune disease where the baby is born with skin lesions similar to those of SLE and/or heart disease, sometimes with additional features. It usually arises due to the passage of autoantibodies like anti-Ro/SSA antibody and the anti-La/SSb antibody through the placenta from the mother to the child during pregnancy.