Lupus pneumonitis refers to the inflammation of the lung caused by complications from SLE. There are three known SLE pneumonitis types that are the sub-acute, acute, and chronic lupus pneumonitis.
These three types have one thing in common known as pleuritis. Pleuritis is mainly identified by inflammation of the pleura which is the layered membrane surrounding the lungs. In rare cases, fluid might form at an abnormal level. If that fluid escapes, a condition known as pleural effusion. Given that any form of inflammation of the pleura is the cause of pressure on the lungs, lupus patients experiencing that condition are prone to face difficulty breathing. The inflammation can be detected with X-rays and can be treated with an oral intake of corticosteroids.
The acute form of lupus pneumonitis is characterized by chest pain that can result in shortness of breath and sometimes dry caught. The best form of treatment of the acute form of pneumonitis lupus is the intake of high dose of steroids. If the type of the disease is severe, immunosuppressive drugs should be considered. However, in rare cases, patients might develop lung scar and other related complications.
The signs and symptoms of acute pneumonitis lupus are similar to the chronic form of the disease. One difference in the apparition of the two forms is that the acute form can develop over days while the chronic form fully appears over weeks. Some similar signs and symptoms might be breathing issues and lung pains.
These two types are so similar that few patients do not realize that they have either type. Sometimes, the inflammation can be easily treated with an intravenous intake of corticosteroids if the oral intake is too painful. The versatility of the disease makes it important for patients to share with their health care specialist any sort of lung pain they may experience.
Lupus Pneumonitis Diagnosis and Treatment Options
The diagnosis forms of SLE pneumonitis include testing the blood for signs of the disease. Another commonly used test is X-rays which provide a better view of pains experienced by patients in the lungs. Moreover, bronchoscope tests might be recommended in case severe lung infections are suspected.
Based on the diagnosis, treatment for lupus pneumonitis can start with a low dose of antibiotics. In case the diagnosis revealed lung infections, corticosteroids might be the best form of action. The dosage of corticosteroids depends on the type and severity of the disease. If the corticosteroids alone are unable to treat the infection, immunosuppressive might be added.