Lupus - Symptoms

The symptoms of lupus vary in seriousness. Sometimes they are quite mild, and sometimes they are quite severe. Typical symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle pain, decreased appetite, and weight loss. The spleen and lymph nodes are often swollen. Other areas that may be affected by lupus include:

  • Joints. Joint pain and disorders, such as arthritis (see arthritis entry), are common. About 90 percent of all lupus patients have such problems.
  • Skin. Lupus may cause skin rashes on any part of the body. They usually occur on the face, scalp, chest, ears, back, arms, and legs. When they occur in the mouth, they form ulcers (open sores). Hair loss is common.
  • Lungs. Lupus may cause inflammation of the pleura, the tissue that lines the lungs. The patient may experience coughing and shortness of breath.
  • Heart and circulatory system. Lupus may cause inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart (pericarditis; pronounced per-i-kar-DIE-tiss) or of the heart itself (myocarditis; pronounced my-o-kar-DIE-tiss). When this happens, various heart problems may develop, such as an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia; pronounced uh-RITH-mee-uh), heart failure, and even sudden death. Blood clots often form in the blood vessels. These blood clots can break loose and cause a stroke (see stroke entry) or other complications.
  • Nervous system. Headaches, seizures, personality changes, and psychosis (confused thinking) may occur.
  • Kidneys. During a lupus attack, the body's kidney cells may begin to die. When this happens, the kidney can no longer filter blood. Toxins (poisons) may build up in the kidney, causing it to stop functioning.
  • Gastrointestinal (digestive) system. Patients may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal (stomach) pain. The lining of the stomach may also become inflamed.
  • Eyes. The eyes may become red, sore, and dry. Inflammation of nerves in the eye may cause vision problems and blindness.

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