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Lupus Signs & Symptoms

Systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE) is a treatable systemic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the healthy cells and tissue of any part of its own body, mistaking them to be antigens. As a result of the damage that the immune system does to its own body, the body suffers tissue damage and organ impairment. Patients with SLE experience alternating periods of flares (illness) and remissions.

(Have you been diagnosed with this autoimmune disease? See if you qualify for our lupus clinical trials in Birmingham, AL.)

With such a broad range of varying signs and symptoms that unpredictably appear and disappear, lupus is known as a “great imitator” because it frequently mimics those of other illnesses. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose for these reasons. Lupus can be medically managed upon diagnoses in order to prevent flare-ups. Take a closer look at Lupus or read about National Lupus Awareness Month!

A large percentage of lupus patients complain about experiencing joint pain (lupus arthritis), long-standing fever, malaise, myalgias, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and fatigue. Since these symptoms are experienced with so many diseases, doctors cannot diagnose lupus with only these criteria. When these symptoms are present alongside the following signs, however, they are important diagnostic red flags of lupus.

Dermatological signs and symptoms of lupus:

  • Butterfly rash (on the cheeks and bridge of the nose)
  • Alopecia
  • Ulcers of the nose, mouth, urinary tract and vagina
  • Skin lesions that appear or become exacerbated with skin exposure
  • Tears in the eyes caused by minimal rubbing
  • Dry eyes
  • Photosensitivity

Lupus can affect the skin, thus patients are sensitive to sunlight and should therefore avoid sun exposure.

Nephrological signs and symptoms of lupus:

  • Nephritis
  • Hematuria
  • Protenuria (protein found in the urine)
  • Lupus nephritis
  • Renal failure
  • Glomerulonephritis

Lupus can deteriorate the function of the kidneys and can damage one’s ability to get rid of waste products and toxins from the blood.

Neurological, nervous and psychiatric symptoms of lupus include:

  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Acute confusional state
  • Plexopathy
  • Movement disorder
  • Polyneuropathy
  • Depression
  • Poor sleep quality

The brain and central nervous system can be affected by lupus in a variety of ways.

The blood can impacted by SLE, causing the following symptoms:

  • Anemia
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Low platelet count
  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome
  • Anticardiolipid antibody

Lupus may affect the quality of the blood vessels, causing the following symptom:

  • Inflammation of the blood vessels

The fetus of a pregnant woman can be impacted by its mother’s lupus in the following ways:

  • Clotting in the placenta
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Neonatal lupus found in an infant carried by a lupus-affected mother
  • Heart block found in the fetus or baby carried by a lupus-affected mother

Signs and symptoms of lung involvement in lupus:

  • Pleuritis
  • Pleural effusion
  • Lupus pneumonitis
  • Chronic diffuse interstitial lung disease

Lupus can injure the lungs by inflaming the chest cavity and causing breathing difficulties.

The heart and the membranes around it can become inflamed and harmed by lupus, causing chest pain and other symptoms, including:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Pericarditis
  • Myocarditis
  • Endocarditis (Libman-Sacks endocarditis)

The symptoms of lupus are generally repetitive and will recur upon flare-ups. If you experience any of the above symptoms, contact your healthcare professional. If you have already been diagnosed with lupus and have been in remission and find yourself experiencing any of the above symptoms, you could be experiencing a flare-up, and you should contact your health care provider. Lupus can be managed with drugs and therapies, and you have a good chance of continuing to lead your quality of life once you attain remission.