Lupus is a complex autoimmune disease that generates a wide variety of symptoms. The symptoms produced by lupus may range from mild to severe and generally occur in flares, unpredictably aggravating or ameliorating over time. Some of the common symptoms of lupus are: pronounced fatigue, pain and swelling of the joints, skin rashes and fever. At skin level, lupus often causes the occurrence of the “butterfly rash”, which appears across the nose and cheeks. Although the butterfly rash is the most common rash characteristic to lupus, the disease can cause many other different types of rashes located in various regions of the body: face and ears, scalp, neck, arms, shoulders, hands, chest and back.
The autoimmune disease can also produce symptoms such as chest pain, increased sensitivity to sunlight, alopecia (hair loss), anemia or leucopenia (decrease in the number of red blood cells, respectively white blood cells), and paleness or cyanosis of the fingers and toes (due to poor oxygenation of the body extremities). Patients with lupus often suffer from headaches, vertigo (dizziness), decreased vision, poor concentration, psychological conditions (depression) and sometimes even seizures and faints. The progression of the disease is unpredictable and symptoms may come and go unexpectedly. Over time, patients with lupus may experience different sets of symptoms, occurring in flares and varying in intensity and duration.
When lupus affects the lymphatic system of the body, the most common symptoms of lupus are swelling and pain of the lymph nodes throughout the body. Most cases of lupus either affect the lymphatic system, the musculoskeletal system or the skin. When lupus affects the musculoskeletal system, the most common symptoms are muscular pain, fatigue, swelling and stiffness of the joints. When confined to the skin, lupus commonly generates rashes, inflammation and irritation of the skin.
Lupus often causes kidney affections such as nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys), interfering in the process of excretion and determining the accumulation of toxins inside the body. Lupus patients who also suffer from kidney impairments usually require strong medication treatments in order to prevent the occurrence of serious complications.
In many cases, lupus affects the circulatory system of the body, causing inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis), anemia or leucopenia (decrease in red and white blood cells). Lupus may also lead to the occurrence of thrombocytopenia, a decrease in the number of platelets in the blood, condition that interferes in the process of blood coagulation, increasing the risk of bleeding.
When lupus affects the central nervous system, the most common symptoms are dizziness, headaches, temporary memory loss (amnesia), decreased vision, or neuropsychological problems (depression, unpredictable behavioral changes). Some of these previously mentioned symptoms aren’t solely caused by lupus; often they occur as a result of emotional stress and prolonged lupus medication. The majority of these symptoms can be reversed by interrupting the treatment or reducing the dose of medication.
At pulmonary level, patients with lupus may suffer from pleuritis (inflammation of the interior lining of the chest), condition that causes pronounced discomfort and pain, especially when taking deep breaths. Patients with lupus are also very susceptible of developing pneumonia. At coronary level, patients with lupus may suffer from coronary vasculitis (inflammation of the arteries that deliver blood to the heart), myocarditis and endocarditis (inflammation of the heart itself) and pericarditis (inflammation of the heart protective membrane). If discovered in time, the implications of lupus at coronary level can be efficiently reversed with medical treatment.