There is no more difficult disease to diagnose, understand, or treat than the .
disease called systemic lupus erythematosus (Lahita 1998). This may be due to the fact that lupus is not one disease but many diseases grouped under one heading. I t may also be because the disease can present itself to both physicians and patients in mysterious ways; throwing them off the track, leading them to think of other more common illnesses, and avoiding standard diagnostic methods. Whatever the reason may be lupus is complex and problematic. Lupus can be a very difficult disease to diagnose (Wallace 1995).
What is lupus?.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease (auto- meaning self). The immune system, which normally protects the body, turns against itself and attacks it. Lupus has no known cause, and as a result, there is no known cure (JAMA 2001). The disease got its name because many patients looked as though they had been bitten or scratched by wolves. Lupus, in Latin, means, "wolf- (Lahita 1998). The disease can affect many different systems of the body, and there are many different ways that it can affect people.
People with lupus have unusual antibodies in their blood that target their own body tissues. The disease can affect all ages, but most commonly begins from age 20 to 45 years (MedicineNet 2000). .
What are the symptoms of lupus?.
There are many symptoms of lupus. Some people have some of them, but no one has all of them. Most only have a few. Common complaints and symptoms include fatigue, low-grade fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches, arthritis, ulcers of the mouth and nose, facial rash ("butterfly rash-), unusual sensitivity to sunlight, inflammation of the lining of the lung and the heart, and poor circulation to the fingers and toes with cold exposure (Wallace 1995). .
The earlier symptoms may resemble flu-like symptoms. The patient will experience fatigue and exhaustion accompanied by irregular joint discomfort.