Lupus Signs and Symptoms

What is Lupus?

Before we talk about the signs and symptoms of lupus, let’s define it. Lupus is a widespread and chronic (lifelong) autoimmune disease that, for unknown reasons, causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissue and organs, including the joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, blood, or skin.  Lupus can cause a wide variety of devastating symptoms. It can affect nearly every organ in the body with no predictability, causing widespread infections and inflammation.

What are the four types of lupus?

  1. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (also known as chronic cutaneous lupus): Cutaneous lupus was the first type of lupus to be diagnosed. This type affects the skin and can cause thick, red, scaly rashes on the face, neck, and scalp that can lead to scarringThere are three types of cutaneous lupus rashes (discoid being one of them) that we will discuss in detail below.
  2. Drug-induced lupus erythematosusSclerodermaDrug-induced lupus is a rare, almost always temporary form of lupus that can occur as a side effect of certain medications, including several drugs commonly used to treat heart disease and hypertension. Unusual when compared to statistics for other forms of lupus, men are more likely to develop drug-induced lupus than women. Drug induced lupus only occurs after long-term (months to years) daily use of a medication, and once the medication is stopped, symptoms of drug-induced lupus typically disappear completely within six months. Drug induced lupus does not lead to systemic lupus.
  3. Neonatal lupus erythematosus: This is a rare form of lupus in newborn babies whose mothers have lupus that can cause problems at birth or in rare cases, a serious heart defect. This occurs when a mother with certain kinds of lupus [antibodies] transfers them to her child at the time of birth. The mother may have the antibodies but not have lupus herself. In fact, less than 50% of mothers of babies with neonatal lupus actually have lupus.
  4. Systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE: Systemic lupus causes inflammation in multiple organs and body systems. SLE is a widespread and chronic autoimmune disease that, for unknown reasons, causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissue and organs, including the joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, blood, or skin. 90% of those affected with lupus are women between the ages of 15 and 45, and of those, two-thirds are people of color.

Lupus Symptoms and Signs

Lupus is a very difficult disease to diagnose.  Because lupus rarely presents itself the same way in any two people, it is very challenging for those in the medical profession to understand, diagnose and properly treat.  It often takes a very long time for a diagnosis, which can be extremely frustrating for both the patient and the physician alike. Lupus symptoms may have a sudden onset or progress slowly; they could be temporary or permanent, making it all the more confusing and concerning. There are, however certain signs and symptoms that may begin you asking the question, “Could I have lupus?”

Lupus Symptoms
Lupus can and often affects many
different systems in the body, and therefore, if you do have lupus,  the symptoms and signs that you may experience will depend heavily on which part of the body is being affected by the disease, but here is a thorough yet abbreviated list;

A Quick Synopsis of Some Common Lupus Symptoms and Signs

Check out this link from, for a great, short, informational video featuring the Chairman of Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Dr. Bob Lahita. This video provides clear and concise information that will help to give an understanding of what could be some symptoms of lupus.He also gives some fantastic advice by recommending that the patient write down all symptoms being experienced before heading in to a doctor for diagnosis.

If you develop an unexplained rash, are having ongoing fever along with persistent aching or fatigue, write these, and any other accompanying symptoms down and seek a medical professional like a rheumatologist. Please see the related links below.

Some Super Resources

Fortunately because of the hard work we are doing here at Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus, along with the efforts of other lupus organizations and research institutes such as the Alliance for Lupus Research, awareness is being brought to this debilitating disease.  We are making strides in the understanding of lupus, which is leading to quicker diagnosis, the development of better treatments and medications, and ultimately getting steps closer to our goal of a cure.

Connective Tissue DisorderYou have just read this blog on lupus signs and symptoms. You may also wish to read the following blogs:

Diagnosing Lupus and Lupus Tests

Autoimmune Diseases

Living With Lupus


 *All resources provided by Molly’s Fund are for informational purposes only and should be used as a guide or for supplemental information, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. The personal views do not necessarily encompass the views of the organization, but the information has been vetted as a relevant resource. We encourage you to be your strongest advocate and always contact your medical provider with any specific questions or concerns.

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Article by : Karrie Sundbom

Karrie is the Digital Marketing Manager at Molly's Fund and responsible for innovating content for all of Molly's Funds online communications, creating memes and graphics, writing the MFFL Newsletter and main lupus blogs, as well as developing and managing the content for all of our social media platforms. Connect with Karrie on LinkedIn and Google+ .
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