Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a disorder that primarily affects young women between the ages of twenty and forty. Lupus is nine times more common in women than it is in men and it is because of this overwhelming predominance in young women that men tend to be rather forgotten about.
There is increasing evidence in the scientific literature that when males get lupus it is more complex and often more severe. This is also the reason why men tend to have a significant delay before lupus is diagnosed unless the symptoms are very characteristic. On the whole however the early symptoms of lupus are very non-specific in terms of aches and pains, mouth ulcers and rashes which are often difficult to diagnose.
Some reports suggest men with lupus have a higher frequency of involvement of the lining of the lung and the heart - so called Serositis. This often presents with sharp pains in the chest which are worse on breathing together with breathlessness, click here for more information on lungs and lupus.
In terms of blood test abnormalities however, there are few if any differences between men and women in terms of the number and type of antibodies and blood test abnormalities. Other studies have shown that men are more likely to develop nerve damage - peripheral neuropathy but this has not been a consistent finding. Other studies have also shown slightly increased risk of epilepsy and kidney involvement. The problem however with many of these studies is that the number of men in the reports is very small indeed and it is difficult to be certain about the conclusions.
In summary therefore, males certainly do develop Systemic Lupus Erythematosus but at far lower rates than women and this often contributes to the delay in diagnosing men with lupus. The general consensus however, is that once the diagnosis is established there are no major differences in clinical features, antibody profiles or response to treatment.
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