How To Recognize Lupus Symptoms

Lupus has slightly different symptoms manifested in various patients and can range from mild to severe and may re-occur in a patient over time. Some of the most common symptoms of lupus include:

  • unexplained high fever
  • pain in swollen joints or indications of arthritis
  • rashes described as malar rashes or butterfly rashes found mostly on the face, and appear on the cheeks and on the nose
  • rashes on the ears, face, shoulders, chest, upper arms and hands may also show
  • photosensitivity or sensitivity to sunlight manifests, causing rashes to initially develop and worsen with more exposure to the sun.

As the lupus progresses in a person, other symptoms that may develop include:

  • chest pains when deep breathing
  • swelling or edema in the legs or around the eyes
  • glands swelling
  • signs of unexplained heavy fatigue
  • unusual hair loss
  • decreasing red blood cells or signs of anemia
  • development of ulcers in the mouth
  • manifestations of Raynaud's phenomenon or the fingers and toes turning pale or purple from the cold or from stress

For some people, dizziness, mild to severe headaches, unexplained depression, confusion, and/or seizures may also occur. Other symptoms may later appear even after an initial diagnosis and treatment has been done years before. Various symptoms can also manifest at different times in a person's lifetime.

Skin rashes may occur as allergies but the common symptom in lupus patients is a pinkish rash on the cheeks. The inflammation in the small blood vessels of the skin may further cause a variety of rashes, the most common of which are the pinkish spotty rashes on the elbows and around the fingers and toes.

Some patients with lupus may develop Raynauds phenomenon, the tendency for the fingers of a person to become dead white then bluish when exposed to a cold environment. This symptom may precede the diagnosis of lupus for many years since it is also seen in healthy individuals.

Majority of lupus patients suffer from aches and pains. During a severe attack, pain may occur all over the body, affecting ligaments, muscles, and joints. For the younger generation, the pains may be passed off as "growing pains" limited to both knees, and for older patients, they may be misdiagnosed as suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Hair loss is another common symptom. Though it is normal to loose hair when combing, it is when considerable amounts of hair are found on the pillow in the morning that it may be considered a symptom.

One of the most common symptoms recorded for active lupus is the inflammation in a person's tendons. The patient may not be able to stretch his fingers flat in a praying position and may have an abnormal pull by the tendons on the joints that may lead to a deformity. In worse cases, a patient may develop a "lupus thumb" where the thumb is locked into the "hitchhiking" position. The tendency of the inflammation of tendons disappears that it is important for a patient to have a hand x-ray done when deformities appear to confirm if it is a sign of lupus.

Inflammation of the veins or "thrombophlebitis" is an occasional complication of lupus as well. In the kidney, it may manifest through a disturbed kidney blood flow and in the brain, it may cause mild depressive attacks or even a seizure.
In a lupus patient, the most frequently affected part of the heart and lungs are the linings or the pericardium and pleura. Pleurisy or sharp pains in the lower parts of the chest, around the side or at the back, when breathing deeply, is also a possible symptom. If fluid has developed in the space between the layers of the pleura or pericardium this may lead to shortness of breath.

How serious the body system of a person with lupus is affected varies. For some lupus patients, only one system of the body, such as the skin or joints, is affected, while other patients experience symptoms in many parts of their body. 

Lupus may strike as an acute and severe illness, or may stay undiagnosed for many years. It may also appear as a transient disease. Its early diagnosis and immediate effective treatment may mean a patient may lead a normal life. So visit your doctor immediately when some symptoms manifest and recur.


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