Migraine—Not A Symptom of SLE

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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, SLE, or commonly termed Lupus, is an autoimmune condition which causes inflammation of the body’s organs like kidneys, brain, skin, joints and other tissue groups. This is a chronic condition it is more common among women than men. In terms of demographics, Lupus is diagnosed more commonly among African-Americans and Asians. The cause of SLE is still unknown but some studies have linked it to the presence of Lupus Antibodies.

For the past decades, many physicians believe that headaches, more specifically migraines, are symptoms of this condition. However, researches from Greece proved otherwise. In their latest study linking migraine attacks to diagnosis of lupus, little connection was observed. According to them, migraines should be treated as a separate condition and should not be considered as a symptom of lupus. Previous studies, according to them, may have suffered from methodological errors and these errors led most physicians to consider migraine attacks as something that usually come with the autoimmune disease.

Researchers from Athens Naval Hospital claimed that migraines usually result to the psychological and physical stress that lupus patient’s experience. In the current study, the group of Dr. Mitsikostas made use of three study groups—patients with lupus, control/healthy patients and patients with MS or multiple sclerosis, another autoimmune disease. These groups kept headache diaries for one year.

The research results showed that all subjects had similar frequent headaches throughout the year. However, patients with lupus were found to experience more tension headaches than the other groups. In both the lupus and MS groups, headaches were found unrelatable to any flare ups of the condition.

The study found out that higher levels of anxiety and lower quality of life were observed in patients with lupus and this may be the cause of the headaches and migraines which such patients suffer from. This should alert the physicians to treat migraines and headaches as separate symptoms and should not be dismissed as something that goes naturally with the disease.

Other signs and symptoms of lupus include chest pain, fatigue and tiredness, body malaise, hairloss, sensitivity to light/ photosensitivity, skin rash/ butterfly rash, and swollen lymph nodes. Also, depending on the part of the body affected, lupus may also show more unique signs and symptoms exclusive to such body organ or body system involved.

Currently, there is no definitive treatment that can completely cure lupus. Thus, the treatment resorted to by physicians managing lupus patients is symptomatic. Hence, treatments depend on the signs and symptoms that may come up. Treatment of SLE includes the use of high dose corticosteroids to lower the immune system response and limit inflammatory conditions. Corticosteroid creams may also be applied to rashes and prevent them from itching and progressing. Protective clothing should also be worn especially when going out because sun exposure may trigger lupus flare ups.

In terms of prognosis, it greatly depends of the severity of the disease. However, recent trends in treating Lupus have improved the outcome of patients.

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