Pediatric Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE in short is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the patient’s own body tissues. This will eventually cause swelling (inflammation) in skin, lungs, kidneys, nervous system & various other organs as well. SLE is quite rarely found in people below the age of 10 years & is more common in females than male population & in some ethnic groups like Hispanic, African-American, Native American, & South & Southeast Asian. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus also affects children in the same way it affects adults. The only difference between the two is that caring in children varies from that of adults because treatments can have greater impact on the physical & psychological growth & development of children.
What are the Signs & Symptoms of Pediatric Systemic Lupus Erythematosus?
Parents of children with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus often seek orthopedists to solve the following signs & symptoms:
- Weight Loss
- Stomach Pain
- Hair Loss
- Rashes on Face or Upper Body
- Pinful Joints
- Easily Bruising
- Seizures or Psychosis
- Symptoms of Depression or Anxiety
- Decline in School Performance
What are the Causes for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus?
Exact causes of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus are however still unknown. Generally, patients having SLE are born with genetic factors which predispose them to developing this disease. But then, not all patients born with these genetic factors develop Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Therefore, it is understood that some environmental factors trigger off responses within the immune system in order to cause SLE. Some common factors which may possibly trigger SLE include the following.
- Epstein-Barr Virus
- Drug Reactions
- Exposure to Sun
- Hormones During Puberty
- Exposure to Cigarette Smoke
Diagnosing Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Only when four or more of the following symptoms are found to occur over a period or at the same time without any other explanation for their appearance, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is considered as diagnosed.
- Red rash on bridge of the nose or on cheeks (found in about one-third cases).
- Skin rash due to sun exposure.
- Disc-shaped rash with raised patches & possible scarring resulting from previous outbreaks.
- Sores in nose or mouth.
- Fluid surrounding lungs or heart.
- Arthritis in two or more small joints.
- Kidney problems.
- Abnormal tests for a number of immune system antibodies.
- Anemia – low red blood cell count, platelets, lymph and/or white blood cells.
- Psychosis or seizures.
- High lab readings for ANA (anti-nuclear antibodies). This is a type of immune system cell which attacks nuclei of cells.
Other factors which doctors take into account include age, family history & how long since the patient has had these symptoms before making a diagnosis.
Treatments for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Although there is no cure for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, but proper treatment can greatly help with symptoms. Main goal of treatment is in fact to ease symptoms & prevent immune system from attacking vital organs before they are permanently damaged. Moreover, Pediatric Systemic Lupus Erythematosus cases require attention of a team of specialists which include pediatric rheumatologists, nurses, physical therapists & counselors in order to provide essential treatments so as to ensure physical & psychological health of children. Counseling sessions may often be necessary so as to help the child or teenagers deal with the fact that they are having this autoimmune disease & to help them stay motivated to attend doctors’ appointments, undergo regular blood tests & to take medications on time. Type of medications will however vary depending upon the severity of symptoms.
Some Common Medications Prescribed for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Include the Following
- Corticosteroids like prednisone to control inflammation.
- Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) anti-malaria drug is used to control flare-ups of the disease.
- Immunosuppresants like azathioprine (Imuran), rituximab (Rituxan), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), methotrexate & mycophenolate mofetil (Cellceot).
- Pain relievers like naproxen or ibuprofen.
- Vitamin D & calcium supplements for prevention of osteoporosis. This is possibly a side effect of using corticosteroids.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Treatment Aftercare
Prednisone is considered to be one of the most effective medications for controlling inflammation in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. There may be some serious side effects from corticosteroids like stretch marks, weight gain, suppressed immune system, high blood pressure, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, depression & osteoporosis & which can have a great impact on appearance of child, normal growth & development & psychological well-being. It is therefore very important for the patient to see the doctor at regular intervals in order to keep track on these side effects. Moreover, hydrochloroquine in some rare cases may also cause permanent damage to retina. Therefore all children receiving this medication will need to have regular checkups with ophthalmologists. However, with proper treatments, children with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus will be able to continue attending school, exercise, go out with friends & take part in family activities as well.
Long-Term Outlook for Children Having Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Children who have received proper treatments for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus are generally found to have good outcomes. Survival rate for such cases is nearly 100 percent at 5 years following treatment & about 85 percent at 10 years post treatment. However, children with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus are having greater risk for heart disease & early clogging of arteries (atherosclerosis) when they eventually become young adults.
Other Issues Which Affect Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Treatment
Other issues which affect Systemic Lupus Erythematosus treatments include the following:
- Failure to take medications or follow treatments
- Problems with nervous system
- Kidney disease
- Other infections
- Difficulty in getting proper care
Is There a Way to Prevent Systemic Lupus Erythematosus?
At the outset, causes of systemic lupus erythematosus are not yet fully understood. Therefore, it is not possible to find ways which can possibly help prevent them. However, flare-ups of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus symptoms can be reduced by taking the following steps.
- Avoid exposure to sun
- Wear sunscreen & protective clothing when moving outdoors
- Get enough sleep
- Make sure to take prescribed medications on time
Affordable Pediatric Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Treatment in India
Over the last few decades, India has emerged as a leading medical tourism destination providing a wide spectrum of affordable healthcare solutions including orthopedic treatments & surgeries to people from all across the world. Presently, India is home to an extraordinary pool of expert doctors & surgeons across several specialties of which many are globally recognized to be some of the best in their specific medical fields. Many of them have in fact in the past served & experienced for decades in developed countries like Australia, UK, Canada, & United States. Healthcare infrastructure in India is robust & comprises of an extensive network of accredited hospitals equipped with the most modern state-of-the-art diagnostic & treatment facilities. Orthopaedic Surgery India is a specialty medical tourism company providing affordable end-to-end services for bone & joint problems to international patients. Flourishing under the globally reputed Travcure medical tourism flagship banner, Orthopaedic Surgery India is associated with top orthopedic surgeons & pediatric orthopedists & the best accredited multispecialty healthcare institutions in order to offer the most competitive treatment packages to international patients seeking high quality yet low cost medical solutions away from their homeland.