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What is systemic lupus erythematosus?

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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune condition in which the body's immune system falsely attacks normal tissue of the skin, kidneys, joints, brain and other internal organs, according to MedlinePlus. There is no permanent cure for SLE. Cases of SLE that involve the internal organs require treatment from specialists.

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SLE, also known as disseminated lupus erythematosus, is the most common type of lupus. The cause of SLE has been correlated to genetic, environmental and hormonal factors, according to Healthline. Symptoms of SLE may also be the same for other diseases, which make it more difficult to diagnose. These symptoms include headache, rash, anemia, fatigue, hair loss and blood-clotting problems. Other symptoms of SLE are specific to the body part where the abnormal antibodies are attacking.

To diagnose SLE, several tests must be taken by the patient, according to Healthline. These primary tests include complete blood count, chest X-ray, urinalysis, kidney biopsy and antibody test. The diagnosed patient is usually referred to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of joint and soft tissue disorders.

As of 2015, there is no known cure for SLE; the goal of treatment is to manage symptoms, notes Healthline. Treatment methods vary depending on severity and location of the affected body part. Anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids and topical creams may be prescribed.

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