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Lupus Symptoms

There are several forms of lupus:

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE is the most common type of lupus. SLE can affect many parts of the body including joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, blood vessels, nervous system, blood, and brain. Although SLE usually develops in people between the ages of 15 and 44 years, it can occur in childhood or later in life. The signs of SLE vary and there are usually periods of both illness and wellness (also called remission or having no symptoms). Some people have just a few signs of the disease while others have more. Its symptoms can include:

  • "butterfly" rash across the nose and cheeks
  • skin rashes on parts of the body exposed to the sun
  • sores in the mouth or nose
  • painful or swollen joints
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • hair loss
  • fatigue
  • chest pain when taking deep breaths
  • purple or pale fingers or toes from cold or stress
  • abdominal pain
  • kidney inflammation
  • headaches
  • paranoia
  • schizophrenia
  • hallucinations
  • depression
  • trouble thinking
  • memory problems
  • seizures
  • strokes
  • blood clots

Discoid (diss-koid) lupus erythematosus (DLE). DLE just affects the skin. It does not affect other organs, like SLE. Its symptoms can include:

  • a red, raised rash on the face, scalp, or other parts of the body. The rash may become thick and scaly and may last for days or years.
  • sores in the mouth or nose (sometimes)

A small group of people with DLE later develop SLE. There is no way to know if someone with DLE will get SLE. A skin biopsy (removing a piece of skin to look at under a microscope) of the rash is taken to diagnose this type of lupus.

Drug-induced lupus. This type of lupus is a reaction to some prescription medicines. The symptoms of this type of lupus are similar to SLE, except you don't have problems with your kidneys or central nervous system. It can take months to years of taking the medicine before symptoms appear. After you stop taking the drug, it could take days, weeks, or months for symptoms to go away.

Neonatal lupus. While rare, some newborn babies of women with SLE or other immune system disorders get lupus. Babies with neonatal lupus may have a serious heart defect. About one-half of babies with neonatal lupus are born with a heart condition. This condition is permanent, but it can be treated with a pacemaker (a device that helps the heart set a rhythm). Other affected babies may have a skin rash or liver problems. Some babies have both heart and skin problems.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 27, 2009

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