With lupus affecting various organs, it generates a wide range of symptoms. Some symptoms are mild and temporary while other symptoms last over the course of the disease. The most common symptoms of lupus are:
- Extreme fatigue
As many as 80 percent of people with lupus experience fatigue which can be debilitating.
Several factors appear to be related to the experience of fatigue. These include disease activity and pain level, medications taken, age, poor mental and/or physical health, and the absence of sufficient social support.
Poor coping strategies, feelings of helplessness, depression or anxiety, smoking, and lack of exercise can also be related to lupus fatigue. Before a physician can conclude that fatigue is related to these factors, he or she will rule out any treatable causes of fatigue such as anemia, kidney failure, or hypothyroidism.
- Painful or swollen joints and muscle pain
It is not uncommon for people with lupus to experience muscle aches and pain (myalgias) or have inflammation of certain muscle groups (myositis), which causes weakness and loss of strength. More than 90 percent of people with lupus will experience joint and/or muscle pain at some time during the course of their illness.More than half of the people who develop lupus mention joint pain as their first symptom.
Muscle pain and muscle tenderness, especially during periods of increased disease activity (flare), occur in as many as 50 percent of those with lupus. The symptoms may have different causes. It is important for your physician to determine the cause of your symptoms since treatments are quite varied. Rheumatologists are the physicians who specialize in the joints, muscles and bones.
is the most common reason for muscle pain and aches. Any time that major inflammation exists (“strep” throat, hepatitis, cancer, lupus, acute heart attack, etc.), signs and symptoms often include fevers, sweats, chills, fatigue, weight loss, and various muscle aches, pains and weakness. These non-specific, non-diagnostic symptoms are signs of your body’s inability to cope with whatever process has overwhelmed it. Because lupus is an inflammatory disease it may cause any of these problems. These myalgias are a secondary part of the overall disease.
- Headaches and unexplained fevers
People with lupus may experience this type of fever off and on. A low-grade fever could be a symptom of inflammation, infection, or imminent flare-up. If you have recurrent, low-grade fevers, make an appointment to see your doctor.
- Lupus headache
People with lupus may be twice as likely to experience migraine-like lupus headaches, commonly known as lupus headaches. The symptoms of lupus headaches are similar to migraines and may be seen more often in people who also have Raynaud’s phenomenon. These headaches can also be caused by vasculitis, a symptom of active lupus due to inflammation of the blood vessels. If you are experiencing headaches that are not improved by an over-the-counter headache medication, be sure to contact your doctor.
is a condition of ANS connection caused by inflammation of nerves or blood vessels. Blood vessels in the hands and feet go into spasm and restrict blood flow, usually as a reaction to
- Lupus fog or cognitive dysfunction
Half of all people with lupus describe feelings of confusion, fatigue, memory loss, and difficulty expressing their thoughts. This gathering of these symptoms is calledcognitive dysfunction, although many people with lupus call it “lupus fog.” Cognitive dysfunction most often affects people with mild to moderately active lupus. The causes of these symptomsare unknown. Living with cognitive dysfunction can be very challenging. However, you can learn to improve your concentration and reduce confusion and memory loss with a variety of coping skills, including puzzles, games, biofeedback, using a daily appointment calendar, and balancing daily activities to reduce stress.
- Lupus headache
- Sensitivity to sunlight and/or fluorescent light
Photosensitivity is the term used to describe sensitivity to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight and other light sources, such as indoor fluorescent light. It can cause rashes, fever, fatigue, joint pain, and other symptoms in people with both cutaneous (skin) and systemic lupus. Excess exposure to UV rays is a common trigger for increased disease activity (flare) of both cutaneous lupus and systemic lupus. It affects each lupus patient differently. Some individuals will have new or increased skin rashes or sores (lesions). Those with systemic lupus may have increased joint pain, fatigue, fever, and flu like symptoms. If you are easily affected, it’s important to try to stay away from direct sunlight between 10 am to 4 pm. UV rays are especially intense during those hours and at higher altitudes, and in or around snow or water.If you are going to be outdoors for longer than a few minutes, you must use sun block of at least SPF 70 that blocks both UVA and UVB.
- Cutaneous (discoid) lupus
Discoid lupus appears as disk-shaped, round lesions. The sores usually appear on the scalp and face but sometimes they will occur on other parts of the body as well.Discoid lupus lesions are often red, scaly, and thick. Usually they do not hurt or itch.
Symptoms associated with Cutaneous (discoid)lupus include:
- A butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks and, nose
- Hair loss – discoid lesions that occur on the scalp may cause the hair to fall out.
- Sores in the mouth or nose