Lupus erythematosus disease (SLE) or lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition. In people with lupus, the immune system loses its ability to distinguish between viruses and other invaders and healthy human tissue.

This condition often leads to complications if left untreated. Some people require anti-inflammatory drugs and chemotherapeutic agents to help treat the disease.

The symptoms of lupus are variable, and the condition generally affects each person differently.

Skin rash

The most typical symptom of lupus is a skin rash on the nose and cheeks, often in a butterfly shape. These rashes can appear on the arms, legs, and other body parts, as well.

Usually, the lesions occur after exposure to the sun, because lupus increases an individual's photosensitivity.

A Woman scratching her arm with her finger tips


Joint pain and swelling

Often, lupus triggers inflammation in the joints, accompanied by stiffness and pain. Most people experience the greatest discomfort in the morning hours. Like other symptoms of lupus, joint swelling and pain may be episodic.

Many physicians may misdiagnose these related joint conditions as isolated arthritis.

A woman rubbing her shoulder with her left hand


Recurrent fever spells

People with lupus can contract low-grade fever for no apparent reason, sometimes quite frequently. The temperature is usually low-grade, not higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. It may be associated with fatigue and a few additional symptoms.

Since a fever can come from a mild infection or similar fleeting condition, people tend to treat the symptom with over-the-counter medications and not investigate it further. However, if such low-grade fever spells begin to recur, one should seek medical attention.

A woman with her hand on her forehead and a thermometer checking for fever


Mouth or nose ulcers

Lupus may also cause ulcers on the nose or mouth, on the roof or sides, as well as the tongue. These ulcers are generally painless eruptions that dry up over time.

Some people may require over-the-counter medications to heal the sores if they do not heal on their own.

A Woman with a pained expression holding the right side of her jaw


Hair Loss

Unprecedented hair loss is also common in people with lupus. Shedding begins due to inflammation of the scalp, and thinning may occur on areas other than the head, as well, including eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, and arms.

The hair may shed in tufts, but more often a gradual reduction in hair volume occurs. In most instances, timely treatment of lupus leads to hair re-growth over time. However, if lesions appear on the scalp, hair may not regrow in the scarred areas.

A woman with a shocked expression looking at a hair brush


Chest pain and breathing problems

In more severe cases, lupus can cause pulmonary inflammation or inflammation of the lining of the lungs or the lungs themselves. This symptom may also affect the diaphragm, resulting in chest pains or shortness of breath, especially when breathing deeply.

A woman with her hand on her chest looking uncomfortable


Kidney infections

People with lupus are also at risk of kidney inflammation. This development can have serious consequences. Swollen kidneys are less able to purify the blood and remove toxins.

This condition, lupus nephritis, can produce symptoms such as swelling in the legs and feet, bloody or dark urine, frequent urination at night, and high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the early signs are neglected, placing individuals at high risk of end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

An image of inflamed kidneys shown over a picture of a man clutching his side


Gastrointestinal problems

In some cases, lupus may hamper the efficiency of the digestive system and lead to acid indigestion and mild heartburn. People with severe lupus can also experience nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Some can gain relief with over-the-counter medications. If someone experiences symptoms such as gastrointestinal issues with no apparent cause, they should seek the advice of a medical practitioner.

A woman sitting down with her hands on her lower stomach


Dry mouth, dry eyes

Lupus can cause a dry and gritty mouth, even in properly hydrated people. Sometimes, this is due to Sjogren's syndrome, which occurs when the glands stop producing adequate tears and saliva. Women can also experience vaginal dryness. To alleviate these discomforts, doctors may prescribe medications.

A man with grey hair putting eye drops in his eye


Other symptoms of lupus

Lupus comes with a wide variety of other symptoms as well. The disease manifests differently in different people, making detection difficult. Additional symptoms include muscle pain, osteoporosis, and extreme fatigue.

The fingers and toes might turn blue or white when exposed to the cold, and some people develop headaches and abnormal blood clotting. Some people experience more uncommon symptoms such as anemia and seizures.

Symptoms of lupus might come and go intermittently or disappear for good after their first occurrence.

A woman with her hand on her forehead with her face expressing pain


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