Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Warning Signs of a Flare
- Increased fatigue
- Abdominal discomfort
Preventing a Flare
- Learn to recognize your warning signals
- Maintain good communication with your doctor
Learning more about lupus may also help. Studies have shown that patients
who are well-informed and participate actively in their own care experience
less pain, make fewer visits to the doctor, build self-confidence, and remain
Tips for Working With Your Doctor
- Seek a health care provider who is familiar with SLE and who will listen to
and address your concerns.
- Provide complete, accurate medical information.
- Make a list of your questions and concerns in advance.
- Be honest and share your point of view with the health care provider.
- Ask for clarification or further explanation if you need it.
- Talk to other members of the health care team, such as nurses, therapists,
- Do not hesitate to discuss sensitive subjects (for example, birth control,
intimacy) with your doctor.
- Discuss any treatment changes with your doctor before making them.
Pregnancy for Women With Lupus
Although a lupus pregnancy is considered high risk, most women with lupus
carry their babies safely to the end of their pregnancy. Women with lupus have
a higher rate of miscarriage and premature births compared with the general
population. In addition, women who have antiphospholipid antibodies are at a
greater risk of miscarriage in the second trimester because of their increased
risk of blood clotting in the placenta. Lupus patients with a history of kidney
disease have a higher risk of preeclampsia (hypertension with a buildup of
excess watery fluid in cells or tissues of the body). Pregnancy counseling and
planning before pregnancy are important. Ideally, a woman should have no signs
or symptoms of lupus and be taking no medications for at least 6 months before
she becomes pregnant.
Pregnancy counseling and planning before pregnancy are important.
Some women may experience a mild to moderate flare during or after their
pregnancy; others do not. Pregnant women with lupus, especially those taking
corticosteroids, also are more likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes,
hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and kidney complications, so regular care and
good nutrition during pregnancy are essential. It is also advisable to have
access to a neonatal (newborn) intensive care unit at the time of delivery in
case the baby requires special medical attention.
Lupus is the focus of intense research as scientists try to determine what
causes the disease and how it can best be treated. Some of the questions they
are working to answer include: Why are women more likely than men to have the
disease? Why are there more cases of lupus in some racial and ethnic groups?
What goes wrong in the immune system, and why? How can we correct the way the
immune system functions once something goes wrong? What treatment approaches
will work best to lessen lupus symptoms? How do we cure lupus?