This post was last updated on November 3, 2016\nSystemic lupus erythematosus (also referred to as “SLE” or “lupus“) is a disease in which the body’s immune system becomes “over activated,” resulting in inflammation and damage to organs. It is one of the autoimmune diseases, which include:\n\nRheumatoid arthritis\nMyositis\nScleroderma\nVasculitis\nSjogren’s syndrome\n\nThe most frequent areas of inflammation are the skin, joints, lungs, heart, kidneys, blood cells and nervous system, including the brain.\nWho Gets Lupus?\nThe majority of people with lupus are women during the childbearing ages (15-45) who are African American, Hispanic or Asian, but men, children and the elderly can also develop the disease.\nHow Do Doctors Diagnosis Lupus?\nLupus symptoms can be intermittent (come and go). Lupus can “mimic” other diseases, making diagnosis a challenge. Your doctor will inquire about many symptoms. The most frequent are:\n\nA facial rash that covers the nose and spreads across the cheeks\nRash in sun-exposed areas of skin\nMouth sores or ulcers\nJoint pain or swelling affecting the small joints of the hands with prominent stiffness on awakening in the morning\nFatigue, weight loss, or fever\n\nBlood tests are helpful in diagnosis. Lupus patients have one or more antibodies in the blood which are uncommon in normal persons and in those with other autoimmune diseases. Blood tests, x-rays and other tests of organ function are important in assessing organ function and damage.\nHow Is Lupus Treated?\nTreatment for lupus focuses on managing symptoms which, if not treated, can result in damage to organs. There is no cure. Lupus symptoms and the progression of the disease vary widely, so treatment plans must be highly individualized. The most frequently prescribed medications are:\n\nNon-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and naproxen.\nCortisone containing agents such as prednisone, which are potent anti-inflammatory drugs\nHydroxychoroquine, a drug originally used for malaria, which has been shown to dampen the immune system\nMethotrexate, mycophenolate, cyclophosphamide, azathioprine \u2013 all immune suppressing drugs\n\nThe goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and force the disease into a quiet period (remission). Treatment also includes physical therapy and supportive care to help with the emotional side of having a chronic disease.\nLupus Treatment in Pittsburgh\nExperts at the UPMC Lupus Center of Excellence, part of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, are experienced at evaluating and diagnosing lupus. Our physicians can work with you to develop a persona, comprehensive plan to manage your condition.