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  • Writer's pictureValerie Smith, APRN

The Most Common Symptoms of Lupus

Lupus, medically referred to as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an autoimmune disease that comes with a vast range of symptoms. This means no two cases of lupus will follow the same sort of progression or be exactly alike.

Symptoms can develop slowly … or … symptoms can come on quickly.

Symptoms can be mild … or … symptoms can be severe.

Symptoms can be temporary … or … symptoms can be long lasting.

Symptoms can include the classic signs of lupus … or … symptoms can mimic those associated with other autoimmune diseases.

Lupus varies greatly from person to person, making lupus an autoimmune disease with widespread effects and outcomes.

What is Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic condition. As with all autoimmune diseases, lupus is the result of the body’s immune system attacking itself. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system cannot distinguish between healthy cells and foreign invaders like bacteria, which leads the body to attack its own healthy tissues by mistake.

Flares and Remission

Lupus is like other autoimmune diseases in that symptoms can come and go, commonly known as flares and remissions.

At times, symptoms will be at their worst during a flare-up episode. Other times, symptoms will lessen and you can even have periods of remission where symptoms disappear entirely.

Signs and Symptoms of Lupus

Depending on how your body reacts to the inflammatory process brought on by lupus, you could experience a few symptoms that primarily affect a single area of the body or you could have multiple symptoms that impact the entire body and create extensive health issues. Lupus can even cause organ damage, leading to kidney, heart, or lung disease.

One of the telltale signs of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash that appears on the face. It goes from the bridge of the nose and extends across both cheeks, resembling butterfly wings. Other symptoms include:

  • Sun sensitivity

  • Skin lesions, especially after sun exposure

  • Skin discoloration, specifically on the fingers and toes

  • Scaly and round skin rashes elsewhere on the body

  • Mouth sores, particularly on the lips, gums, and cheeks

  • Fatigue and exhaustion

  • Muscle pain

  • Fever

  • Dizziness

  • Hair loss

  • Bald spots

  • Arthritis

  • Painful joints

  • Stiff joints

  • Swollen joints

  • Swollen glands

  • Swollen eyes

  • Swollen legs

  • Swollen ankles

  • Headaches

  • Confusion

  • Memory loss

  • Mood swings

  • Behavior changes

  • Seizures

  • Dry eyes

  • Eyelid rashes

  • Eye inflammation

  • Shortness of breath

  • Pain when taking deep breaths

  • Chest pain

  • Abdominal pain

  • Recurrent infections

Furthermore, the progressive nature of lupus coupled with the inflammatory process of an autoimmune disease can lead to serious and life-threatening health conditions, such as:

  • Blood clots, which can cause strokes and heart attacks

  • Low blood counts of red and/or white blood cells

  • Low platelet counts

  • Anemia

  • Heart valve damage

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Vasculitis - inflammation of the blood vessels

  • Myocarditis - inflammation of the heart muscle

  • Pericarditis - inflammation of the lining that surrounds the heart muscle

  • Pleurisy - inflammation of the tissues that surround the lungs

  • Atherosclerosis - plaque formation in blood vessels

  • Pneumonia

  • Changes in the central nervous system

  • Kidney failure

  • High blood pressure

  • Bone breakage

  • Bone tissue death

  • Miscarriages in women and other pregnancy complications

  • Increased cancer risk

To say the least, lupus can have far-reaching consequences to a person’s health and wellbeing, especially if it goes uncontrolled.

How Paducah Rheumatology Can Help

Here at Paducah Rheumatology, we have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to help you manage your lupus symptoms and decrease disease progression.

If you have lupus or suspect you might have lupus, we want to help you receive the best care possible. Lupus can be a frustrating and exhausting disease, not to mention a medically-complex disease, and our team at Paducah Rheumatology is ready to walk that journey with you.

We formulate personalized treatment plans that address the specific diagnosis of each one of our patients. But we know the basis of a treatment plan must also look beyond a diagnosis, and rather, every treatment plan should address the individual needs and symptoms of a patient.

Lupus looks different for every patient, so that’s why we are committed to taking the time to get to know our patients.

We want to learn about your particular list of symptoms, and from there, we want to come up with a plan of action that is designed just for you.

Give us a call today at 270-408-6100 to schedule an appointment and send in a physician’s referral if you will be a new patient.

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