What is lupus cerebritis?
Brain inflammation is a medical emergency and therefore, anyone who is at risk of developing lupus cerebritis must know how the disease manifests and what the lupus symptoms are. Lupus cerebritis is a disease that is still quite difficult to diagnose even with the help of the different laboratory tests and imaging tests that are available. Lupus cerebritis is a condition in which the brain or nervous system has been involved in a disease such as lupus erythematosus.
Lupus disease is an auto-immune disorder characterized by the inability of the immune system of distinguishing between the harmful and healthy substances and as a result, it attacks healthy cells and tissue. This is a condition in which the immune system attacks the body because it mistakes healthy cells as being harmful. Systemic lupus disease is the same condition, but it extends to various systems of the body. Kidneys may be involved, the heart or the nervous system. The latter, is what is called lupus cerebritis and which is mainly characterized by the inflammation of the brain tissue.
What is lupus cerebritis has now been established and therefore, let’s see what its symptoms are and if and how it may be treated. The symptoms of this condition can range from mild to severe and they may include anxiety, headaches, depression and stroke or seizures but not only. As much as 15% of the patients with lupus cerebritis experience severe symptoms as the condition cause inflammation and swelling of the brain tissue. This is what actually causes lupus cerebritis symptoms. As the skull cannot extend, the intracranial pressure increases and when swelling becomes severe, the patient may suffer from stroke, seizures or even coma. Patients with severe lupus cerebritis may also experience dizziness, vision problems or behavior changes. Thus, when lupus attacks the brain cells and the nervous system the condition becomes very serious.
Although lupus treatments are available, the disease is not curable. Lupus treatments consist of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, anti-malarial medication and immune suppressive drugs. Treatment is however focused on relieving the symptoms and helping the patient cope easier with the disease. There are also various clinical trials undergoing with the aim of discovering new effective lupus treatment.
Patients with mild symptoms usually do not receive any type of treatment or they are administered intermittent treatment with corticosteroids. The NSAIDs are commonly used to reduce the inflammation and to prevent the condition from worsening. Generally they do not have severe side effects on the patients but they can cause ulcer or abdominal is not taken with food. Anti-malarial drugs proved to be effective in treating the symptoms of the condition even though there is no known connection between malaria and lupus. Severe cases of lupus, especially in patients who do not respond to corticosteroids and anti-malarial drugs are treated with high doses of corticosteroids or immune suppressive drugs. They may however cause serious side effects and therefore, the doctors will closely monitor their patients.
New treatments that are meant to treat the lupus symptoms and give patients hope but which are still under clinical trials are Belimumab (Benlysta), Stem cell transplant, Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and Rituximab.