Symptoms Of Lupus
List Of Signs And Symptoms

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face rash

Symptoms Of Lupus


How Symptoms Are Experienced
List Of Common Symptoms
What Lupus Does To The Body
Lupus And Pregnancy

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Lupus Guide
Drug Induced Lupus
How Symptoms Are Experienced

Each person with lupus experiences the disease in a slightly different way. For example:

• The symptoms can range from mild to severe.
• Problems can flare up and disappear quickly, or last several months, even years.
• Some people only experience symptoms in one part of the body, such as painful knee joints or a face rash. Others are affected in multiple areas.
• New symptoms can appear years after diagnosis.

List Of Common Symptoms:

Skin rashes: A characteristic butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks (also called malar rash). Rashes may also occur behind the ears, on the shoulders, upper arms, chest, hands and other areas exposed to the sun. Many people who have lupus are sensitive to sunlight (known as photosensitivity). Skin rashes often appear or worsen after exposure to sunlight. In some instances they can scar.

Joint pain: About 70 percent of people report joint pain as the first sign of their disease. Joints may feel stiff first thing in the morning and appear red and swollen. Pain tends to appear on both sides of the body at the same time, for example, both knees, wrists, ankles or elbows.

Extreme fatigue: Tiredness is the most common and wearing symptom of lupus. It remains even after flares have subsided.

Mouth Sores: Small sores that appear inside the mouth. Sores may also appear in the vagina.

Reynaud’s phenomenon: The fingers become white and blue after exposure to the cold. See Reynaud's phenomenon.

Headaches and dizziness: It may be that lupus inflames the tissues of the body's nervous system, causing headaches, confusion, difficulties with concentration, fatigue and even occasional seizures.

Dry eyes: Caused by inflammation of the tear producing glands. Eye drops are an effective treatment.

Chest pain: Pain in the chest when breathing in (pleurisy). It is caused by inflammation of the lining of the lungs.

Anemia: About 50 percent of patients with lupus are anemic. In some it is caused by excessive heavy periods, in others it may be due to iron deficiency caused by gastrointestinal bleeding due to lupus medications.

Fever: A low grade fever, below 102F may signal the start of lupus or an approaching lupus flare. Fever can also signal an infection, so if you notice any new symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.

Hair loss: Hair loss in women is a common side effect of lupus and lupus medications. Sometimes it is caused by scalp lesions which if they scar cause permanent hair loss. If it is caused by medications, hair usually grows back after treatment is finished.

Depression: The disease itself can cause depression. The strain of coping with chronic illness and the discomfort of the symptoms may trigger depression. Changes in physical appearance such as hair loss and skin pigmentation changes may impact a woman's self-esteem.

Lupus is known as the great imitator because its symptoms are common to many diseases including thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis and a number of heart, bone, lung and muscle diseases. This is one of the reasons why a diagnosis can take so long to make. See, lupus diagnosis for more details.

What Lupus Does To The Body

The following parts of the body also can be affected by lupus:

Kidney Disorders: Kidney disease is the most serious illness resulting from lupus. About 50 to 70 percent of patients with severe lupus show signs of liver disease. Inflammation of the kidneys can impair their ability to get rid of waste products from the body. Although the patient does not usually experience pain, they may notice dark urine, swelling around the ankles, fingers, eyes and legs. More often than not, the first indication of kidney disease is an abnormal result from a routine blood or urine test.

Nervous system: The nervous system is a network of nerves that link the brain to every part of the body. Inflammation of these vessels can cause dizziness, headaches, memory and vision problems, seizures and strokes.

Lungs: The lining of the chest can become inflamed causing pleurisy. Patients are also prone to pneumonia.

Blood vessels: Blood vessels can become inflamed (vasculitis) affecting blood flow and circulation. If the inflammation is not severe it does not require immediate treatment. Patients are also prone to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), one of the leading causes of heart disease.

Heart: The heart itself can become inflamed (myocarditis and endocarditis) or the membrane surrounding it (pericarditis). This causes chest pain and other symptoms. Endocarditis for example can lead to heart murmurs.

Blood: Patients with lupus are prone to anemia, leukopenia (reduced number of white blood cells) and thrombocytopenia (reduced number of platelets in the blood. Platelets help blood clot). Those with lupus and antiphospholipid antibodies are at increased risk of blood clots.

Joints: Inflammation of the joints can, in some patients, lead to permanent damage of the joints. Joint replacement surgery (JRS) may be necessary. One study reported that about 4 percent of lupus patients require JRS at some point. See also arthritis of the hips.

Lupus And Pregnancy

Sometimes the symptoms of lupus first appear in pregnancy. Those already diagnosed with lupus, and who have not taken Cytoxan or have kidney disease, usually have no problems conceiving. When they become pregnant they are more likely than other women to develop preeclampsia and to have early and late miscarriages (particularly if they have antiphospholipid antibodies, detected by a blood test). Occasionally the baby can develop neonatal lupus which can lead to congenital heart block; a form of heartbeat which is slow or interrupted.

  Related Articles on LUPUS

For more information, see the following:

Causes of lupus: Triggers and causes explained.
Lupus: How to prepare for a doctor's appointment
Lupus treatments: How the disease is managed.

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