SLE Lupus Symptoms

Lupus symptoms vary from person to person, and may come and go. Since no two cases of lupus are exactly alike, there is a wide range of symptoms that are known to affect many parts of the body. Sometimes symptoms develop slowly or appear suddenly; they can be mild, severe, temporary, or permanent. Most people with lupus experience symptoms in only a few organs, but more serious cases can lead to problems with kidneys, the heart, the lungs, blood, or the nervous system.

Lupus episodes, or flares, are usually noted by a worsening of some of the following symptoms:

  • Aching joints, arthritis, and swelling joints, especially in wrists, hands, elbows, knees, and ankles
  • Swelling of the hands and feet due to kidney problems
  • Increased fever of more than 100 degrees F (38 degrees C)
  • Fatigue
  • Skin lesions or rashes, especially on the arms, hands, face, neck, or back
  • Butterfly-shaped rash (malar rash) across the cheeks and nose
  • Anemia (oxygen carrying deficiency of red blood cells)
  • Pain in the chest on deep breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sun or light sensitivity (photosensitivity)
  • Hair loss or alopecia
  • Abnormal blood clotting problems
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon: fingers turn white and/or blue or red in the cold
  • Seizures
  • Mouth or nose ulcers
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Dry eyes
  • Easy bruising
  • Anxiety, depression, headaches, and memory loss
Symptom checklist
Symptom Where? When did you first notice? How often? Recent dates?
Example: rash face and chest 2 years ago Once or twice a month 9/17, 10/8, 10/23, 11/15
Red rash or color change
Painful or swollen joints
Fever with no known cause
Feeling very tired
Trouble thinking, memory problems, confusion
Chest pain with deep breathing
Sensitivity to the sun
Unusual hair loss
Pale or purple fingers or toes
Sores in mouth or nose



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