Lupus can affect different parts of the body, and is more severe when it affects internal organs such as the heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. But most people have one or a few symptoms, and many have symptoms that come and go.
About 90 percent of people with lupus have some degree of fatigue. Taking naps during the day can help some people, but too much sleep can lead to insomnia at night. It can be difficult, but if you stay active and stick to your daily routine, you can keep your energy levels high.
- Unexplained fever
One of the first symptoms of lupus is a low-grade fever for no apparent reason. People with lupus sometimes have an unusually high temperature.
Subfebrile temperature can be a sign of inflammation, infection or an impending exacerbation. If you have low-grade fevers from time to time, make an appointment with your doctor.
- Skin rash or injury
One of the most noticeable symptoms of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash that appears on the bridge of the nose and both cheeks. This rash occurs in about half of patients with lupus. It can happen suddenly or appear after exposure to sunlight. Sometimes the rash appears just before an exacerbation.
Lupus can also cause non-itchy lesions on other parts of the body. In rare cases, urticaria can cause hives. Many people with lupus are sensitive to the sun or even artificial light. Some people’s fingers and toes change color.
- Pain and swelling.
Inflammation can cause joint pain, stiffness, and visible swelling, especially in the morning. It may be mild at first and then gradually become more pronounced. As with other lupus symptoms, joint problems may also occur.
Your doctor will need to determine if your joint problems are caused by lupus or another condition, such as arthritis.
- Gastrointestinal problems
Some people with lupus experience heartburn, acid reflux, or other gastrointestinal problems from time to time. Mild symptoms can be treated with mild antacids. If you have frequent acid reflux or heartburn, reduce the amount of food you eat and avoid caffeinated beverages. Also, do not lie down immediately after eating. If symptoms occur, see a doctor to rule out other conditions.
- Thyroid problems
It is not uncommon for people with lupus to develop autoimmune thyroid disease. The thyroid gland helps regulate the body’s metabolism. An underactive thyroid can affect vital organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys, and liver.
It can also lead to weight gain or loss. Other symptoms include dry skin and hair, as well as depression.
- Dry mouth and dry eyes
If you have hives, your mouth may become dry. Your eyes may feel dry and irritated. This is because some people with lupus develop another autoimmune disease, Sjögren’s disease. Sjögren’s disease disrupts the function of the glands responsible for tears and saliva, and lymphocytes accumulate in the glands. In some cases, women with lupus and Sjögren’s experience vaginal dryness and dry skin.