Lupus Treatment in Northern New Jersey

Patient holds up arm and rubs wrist with other handLupus is an autoimmune disease. There are several types of this disease, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), discoid lupus, subacute cutaneous lupus, drug-induced lupus, and neonatal lupus. While the cause of lupus is unknown, there are lupus treatments available. Bergen Medical Associates is a multi-specialty practice in northern New Jersey. Our rheumatology department assists patients with the diagnosis and treatment of this condition.

What Is Lupus?

With any autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissue. The most common type of lupus is SLE. These diseases can affect various parts of the body, including:

  • Joints
  • Skin
  • Lungs
  • Blood
  • Brain
  • Heart
  • Kidneys

The signs and symptoms of lupus can take several different forms, often related to the part of the body affected. Lupus affects each patient individually, with different combinations of affected body parts and other symptoms. The severity of symptoms also varies widely.

What Are Signs and Symptoms of Lupus?

Depending on the type of lupus diagnosed, and how the individual patient experiences this chronic autoimmune disease, the symptoms may include:

  • Pain and swelling in joints
  • Swelling in the legs and around the eyes
  • Swollen glands and lymph nodes
  • Red rashes, sometimes on the face
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Muscle pains
  • Chest pains, especially when taking a deep breath
  • Fever with no known cause
  • Sunlight sensitivity
  • Hair loss
  • Pale fingers or toes
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Seizures
  • Vision problems
  • Abdominal pain, including nausea
  • Inflammation in and near the heart
  • Clotted arteries and veins
  • Anemia and low white blood cell count

Some of these symptoms can be intermittent. If the patient experiences joint pain and swelling they may also develop arthritis, especially in the wrists, hands, fingers, or knees.

What Are the Risk Factors for Lupus?

As far as medical research has shown, anyone can get lupus. However, women are at higher risk for the disease. Greater rates of lupus are seen in African American, Hispanic, and Asian women. Rates of lupus are higher for Native Americans, as well, including Pacific Islanders and Alaska Natives. SLE occurs most often in people assigned female sex at birth between the ages of 15 and 44. This type of lupus is thought to be related to various factors, including taking specific medications, environment, hormones, and genetics. If a person has a biological parent with lupus, there is also a greater risk of having lupus.

How Is Lupus Diagnosed at Bergen Medical Associates?

The rheumatology practitioners at Bergen Medical Associates start with a physical examination and thorough medical history. They want to know about any symptoms, when they were first noticed, and any other bodily changes. Because the symptoms of lupus are so individual and take place in such a variety of places in the body, it is difficult to diagnose. Some tests can help narrow down the diagnosis, including:

  • Blood tests to monitor the immune system
  • Chest X-ray and imaging of other areas of the body, if warranted
  • Echocardiogram to examine the heart
  • Urinalysis to determine the presence of infection or other conditions
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) to determine the presence of specific antibodies
  • Biopsy of skin or kidney tissue to determine damage

What Are Lupus Treatment Options?

The experienced rheumatology team at Bergen Medical Associates works closely with other medical specialties in our practice. If testing determines a diagnosis of lupus, the team works collaboratively to determine an individualized lupus treatment plan. Usually, symptoms appear in flares and then subside, they can also change over time. If patients are being treated for other conditions at the same time, the board-certified doctors, nurses, and other specialists work together to determine the safety and efficacy of medication regimes.

Lupus treatments may include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Antimalarial drugs
  • Corticosteroids
  • Blood thinners
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Biologics

The goal of lupus treatment is to manage symptoms, prevent flares, and reduce the amount of damage to the body.

How Can I Consult With Bergen Medical Associates in Northern New Jersey?

Bergen Medical Associates offers lupus treatments with rheumatology practitioners. With multiple medical specialties working together, we help patients in northern New Jersey take care of their health and manage chronic diseases, such as lupus. Appointments are available at all our convenient locations. For more information, contact us today.