Guide to Lupus Symptoms

What is lupus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus is a disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. The resulting inflammation can cause pain and damage in almost any part of the body.

Lupus affects each person differently. Most people experience episodes of disease activity (flares), followed by periods with no symptoms.

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that more than 1.5 million Americans are living with lupus. There are more than 16,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Worldwide, there may be as many as 5 million people with lupus. Anyone can get this disease, but it’s most likely to appear in women between the ages of 15 and 44.

What are the common symptoms of lupus?

There’s a huge variation in symptoms from person to person. Symptoms can come and go, and they range from very mild to quite severe. While some symptoms can disappear and never return, others can become permanent.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • dry eyes
  • mouth ulcers
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss
  • shortness of breath
  • joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain
  • swollen glands
  • muscle pain
  • chest pain when you take a deep breath
  • hair loss
  • sun sensitivity

One of the more obvious symptoms of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash on the face. The rash appears on the bridge of the nose and spreads out over the cheeks.

Some people with lupus have Raynaud’s phenomenon, a condition that causes your fingers and toes to turn blue or white when you’re cold or stressed.

Early warning signs of an impending flare include increasing fatigue, rash, and fever.

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