What is Butterfly Disease (SLE)? Symptoms and Treatment

The fight of the immune system against its own tissues and cells is expressed as an autoimmune disease. Immune system cells cause destruction of target tissues by targeting other tissues and organs with the antibodies they produce.

What is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Butterfly Disease)? What Causes Butterfly Disease?

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), known as butterfly disease, is an autoimmune disease that involves many body systems. Joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs are examples of tissues that can be affected by butterfly disease.

In systemic lupus erythematosus disease, the immune system targets its own tissues and cells, instead of foreign microorganisms. It causes related problems. However, this finding may not occur in some people with butterfly disease. SLE (butterfly disease) is not a contagious disease.

Who Gets Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Butterfly Disease)?

The main cause of SLE development in people has not been determined yet. Genetic, hormonal, immune system and various environmental factors may play a role in the emergence of this disease. This is a result pointing to the importance of genetic factors in its emergence.

Female gender and hormonal fluctuations in the body are also risk factors for the development of SLE. Apart from these factors, environmental factors such as some drugs, sunlight, diseases caused by viruses and smoking are also considered as risk factors for the development of SLE.

Butterfly disease generally affects women of reproductive age. The incidence of systemic lupus erythematosus in this age group is approximately 1 in every 250 women. The incidence in women is 9 times higher than in men. post menopause� Although the risk for the development of the disease in women in this period is reduced, it is seen 2 times more than in men in the same age group. Although butterfly disease is less common in men than in women, it tends to have a worse course if it occurs.

Another patient group with a worse course is children and elderly patients. In these people, the signs of the disease occur more insidiously and problems related to the advanced stages of the disease involving the lungs before other findings are encountered earlier.

What are the Symptoms of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Butterfly Disease)?

In butterfly disease, many different symptoms occur as a result of the negative effects of many systems of the body. Symptoms of the disease may be limited to the skin, or may range from life-threatening multi-organ involvement. In most patients, symptoms tend to worsen during the attack period. In some periods, the symptoms may decrease and disappear.

Symptoms of the disease vary depending on which tissue or organ the immune system targets. Symptoms related to the skin, joints, kidneys, blood values, heart, lungs and nervous system occur most frequently in people with butterfly disease:

Skin Findings
Problems related to the skin are among the problems encountered in butterfly disease. Skin manifestations occur in approximately 1 in 5 patients. Especially in some people, the butterfly-like rash on both sides of the nose, which expands to the cheeks, is quite specific for this disease.

Skeletal System Findings
About 90% of people with butterfly disease complain of a skeletal system problem during the course of the disease. These findings can range from moderate joint pain to severe joint inflammation.
Arthritis is a common problem in SLE patients. In addition to inflammation, symptoms such as pain and swelling may be accompanied. Difficulty in moving and pain in these patients, especially at the first day of the day.
Joint inflammation in butterfly disease affects the body symmetrically and generally tends to affect the joints of the hands, wrists and knees. Problems with the emerging kidneys can reach life-threatening dimensions. Patients usually develop kidney diseases following symptoms such as fever, weight loss, rash with facial rash, and joint inflammation.

It is important to detect kidney diseases due to butterfly disease in the early period and take necessary measures against these conditions, since it can reach life-threatening dimensions. Findings such as blood in the urine, urine protein, high creatinine and the development of edema in the legs may indicate that kidney involvement is also added to the disease.

Changes in Blood Values ​​(Hematological Findings)
Changes may occur with blood values ​​in SLE patients. A decrease in the number of red blood cells, erythrocytes, immune cells, which are white blood cells, or platelets, which play a role in blood coagulation, may occur in patients.
The decrease in the number of red blood cells responsible for oxygen transport is expressed as anemia (anemia). Anemia is a symptom that occurs in about half of people with butterfly disease.

A platelet count below normal is called thrombocytopenia. Symptoms such as easy bruising with thrombocytopenia can be added to the disease picture in patients. Since the decrease in white blood cell count may cause susceptibility to infectious diseases in people with butterfly disease, care should be taken in regular follow-up of blood values. These are the conditions that develop after occlusion of the vessels feeding the organs.

Nervous System Findings
Both central nervous system organs such as the brain, cerebellum and spinal cord, and The peripheral nervous system, which is a nerve network that spreads all over the body, can be affected due to SLE disease.

The most common symptom associated with the nervous system is headache. Seizures, inflammation of the membranes of the brain and the development of problems with vision and movement due to damage to nerve cells are other findings that are considered to be related to the nervous system. it occurs. Psychiatric symptoms ranging from depression and anxiety to psychosis are among the nervous system symptoms that can be added to the picture during the course of this disease.

Heart and Lung Findings
Inflammation of the heart and lung membranes may occur in butterfly disease. If inflammation develops in the lung membrane, breathing becomes difficult and a sharp pain is felt during this time.

Apart from the pericardium, the muscle tissue of the heart, valves and vessels of the heart may also be affected during the course of butterfly disease.

Findings of the Digestive System
Symptoms of many digestive system diseases may occur during the course of butterfly disease due to movement disorders of the esophagus and problems in the vessels feeding the digestive system.

How is SLE Diagnosed? How is the treatment done?

In addition to the signs and symptoms that occur during the course of the disease, the diagnosis of butterfly disease can be made by investigating the presence of antibodies in the blood that are considered to be associated with the disease, evaluating the urine analysis and radiological imaging methods.
In today's conditions, SLE There is no definitive treatment for the disease. Treatments applied to people with this disease are planned to alleviate the symptoms. comes first.

Steroid-containing creams for skin rashes, corticosteroids for suppressing excessive activity of the immune system, di In the presence of joint problems that cannot be controlled with other drugs, it is tried to keep the symptoms of butterfly disease under control with the use of malaria drugs and various immune system regulating drugs.

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