Lupus affects each individual patient with wide variety of complaints. Some patients have only a few mild symptoms; some have severe symptoms.
Symptoms as with other autoimmune disease may vary. They may have a period of remission wherein there are no symptoms or very limited symptoms. But, at times patient may go through excessive symptoms – known as “Flare-ups”
- Fatigue: All patient with Lupus experience some amount of fatigue. Patient may report taking afternoon naps. Even some doctors may wrongly perceive them as malingerers. It is important to remain active and stick to a daily routine.
- Unexplained Fever: Low-grade fever in the range of 98.5 to 101 degree Fahrenheit without any apparent reason is very common in early Lupus. Since this fever can come and go many patients tend to ignore this. Fever maybe a sign of a inflammation
- Skin Rash: One of the most noticeable feature of Lupus is the butterfly shaped rash that appears over the bridge of the nose and both cheeks. About half of patients with Lupus may have this rash. This can occur all of a sudden or appear after exposure to sunlight. On such occasions this is noticeable just before a Flare-up. Lupus can cause hives or Urticaria. Some may have non itchy red lesions “Vasculitic rash”. Some experience discolouration in the fingers and toes with exposure to cold (Raynard’s) Many patients are sensitive to the sun, or even to artificial lightening.
- Hair Loss: Thinning of hair is often one of the firs signs of Lupus. Hair loss is due to inflammation of the skin and scalp. Some people may have thinning of eyebrows, eyelashes and of beard. Hair can break easily and feel bit ragged. Treatment of Lupus results in renewed hair growth. Some areas over the scalp can develop deep scarring and in those areas the hair loss maybe permanent.
- Painful, Swollen Joints: the Lupus patients very often describe Pain, stiffness and swelling in the morning. It may be mild at first, gradually becoming more obvious and like other symptoms of lupus it may come and go.
- Kidney Disease: People with Lupus can develop inflammation of the kidneys “Nephritis”. According to the Lupus Foundation, nephritis usually begins within first five years. Symptoms include swollen legs, feet and high blood pressure. One may have painful flanks and dark urine. Frequent urination in the night can cause sleep disturbances. Early signs may go unnoticed. Untreated Lupus Nephritis can lead to kidney failure “End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)”
- Anemia and Low Platelet Count: Some patient can report severe weakness and on examination may be found to have a severe anemia (low HB). Patients with low platelets counts may have lupus.
- Frequent Mouth Ulcers: acidity, heartburns, and abdominal pain are after described by the patients
- Pulmonary Disease: Lungs can become inflamed but the inflammation may extend to lung blood vessels. These can lead to chest pain and breathlessness.
- Central Nervous System (CNS): Are broadly termed as “Neuro Psychiatric Manifestations” which may include frequent headaches, migraine, memory impairment, anxiety, depression (low mood) and very rarely seizures
- Pregnancy and Lupus: Many Lupus patients may have subfertility. They can have miscarriages in the midtrimesterof pregnancy. Some of the lupus patients can have coexisting illness called antiphospholipid antibody syndrome “wherein blood clots and miscarriages are more common”
- Other Autoimmune Diseases: like thyroid disorders (both underactive or hyperactive thyroid diseases) Pernicious Anemia (due to B12 deficiency), Vitiligo, dry eyes and dry mouth (sjogran’s)