What Are The Symptoms of Lupus

What Are The Symptoms of Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – lupus – is a long-term symptom causing inflammation to your joints, skin and other organs. There is no cure, but symptoms can be cured if treatment starts early.

Lupus symptoms

Because lupus can affect so many different parts of the body, it can cause a lot of other different symptoms. And many people with lupus don’t have all the symptoms at he same time.

Challenges in Treating Lupus
Challenges in Treating Lupus

Common signs and symptoms of lupus

The most common lupus symptoms (which are the same for men and women) are:

  • Extreme fatigue (feeling tired all the time)
  • Pain or swelling in the joints
  • Swelling in the hands, feet, or around the eyes
  • Headaches
  • Low fevers
  • Sensitivity to sunlight or fluorescent light
  • Chest pain when breathing deeply

Many people with lupus also have problems that affect their skin and hair, like:

  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks and nose
  • Hair loss
  • Sores in the mouth or nose
  • Fingers and toes turning white or blue and feeling numb when a person is cold or stressed (Raynaud’s Disease)

Lupus symptoms may come and go — and they can change over time.

If I have these symptoms, does that mean I have lupus?

Not necessarily. Lupus shares a lot of symptoms with other diseases, like arthritis and diabetes.

So if you have these common lupus symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor and find out whether you have lupus or a different health problem. That way, you can get the treatment you need.

Learn how doctors diagnose lupus

What Are The Symptoms of Lupus

Could It Be Lupus?

Answer these questions to find out if you have common lupus symptoms, or watch this video for a quick symptom overview:

Lupus can range from mild to severe

How lupus affects the body
SeverityHow it affects the body
MildJoint and skin problems, tiredness
ModerateInflammation of other parts of the skin and body, including your lungs, heart and kidneys
SevereInflammation causing severe damage to the heart, lungs, brain or kidneys can be life threatening

Symptoms can flare up and settle down

Often the disease flares up (relapses) and symptoms become worse for a few weeks, sometimes longer.

Symptoms then settle down (remission). The reason why symptoms flare up or settle down is not yet known.

Some people do not notice any difference and symptoms are constant.

Treatment for lupus

Lupus is generally treated using:

  • anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen
  • hydroxychloroquine for fatigue and skin and joint problems
  • steroid tablets, injections and creams for kidney inflammation and rashes

Two newer medicines (rituximab and belimumab) are sometimes used to treat severe lupus. These work on the immune system to reduce the number of antibodies in the blood.

Living with lupus: things you can do yourself

Although medicines are important in controlling lupus, you can help manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of it getting worse.


  • eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • try to stay active when you’re having a flare-up – try walking or swimming
  • get lots of rest
  • try relaxation techniques to manage stress – stress can make symptoms worse
  • use high-factor (50+) sunscreen – you can get it on prescription if you have lupus
  • wear a hat in the sun
  • tell your employer about your condition – you might be able to adjust your working pattern
  • ask for help from family, friends and health professionals


  • do not smoke – stopping smoking is the most important thing to do if you have lupus
  • do not sit in direct sunlight or spend a lot of time in rooms with fluorescent lights

Causes of lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means the body’s natural defence system (immune system) attacks healthy tissues.

It’s not contagious.

It’s not fully understood what causes lupus. A viral infection, strong medication, sunlight, puberty, childbirth and the menopause can all trigger the condition.

More women than men get lupus, and it’s more common in african american and Asian women.

Pregnancy and lupus

Lupus can cause complications in pregnancy.

See your doctor before trying to get pregnant to discuss the risks and so your medication can be changed if necessary.

Lupus in children

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