Symptoms of lupus

Symptoms of lupus

Lupus symptoms may range from mild to severe, and may develop over a short period of time or slowly. The condition is the result of an autoimmune response wherein the body’s natural defence system (the immune system) becomes compromised for some reason and ‘attacks’ its own healthy cells and tissues.

Every case of lupus is different, and no two diagnoses are exact mirror images of one another. Symptoms typically depend on the specific areas of the body the condition is affecting and may flare-up from time to time. Sometimes symptoms worsen and then appear to resolve (clear up), and in other instances go away completely, while others seem never to improve at all.

Generally, lupus symptoms may include4:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches, severe joint pain and swelling
  • Skin rashes (on the face and body – known as a ‘butterfly rash,’ medically termed a malar rash)
  • Extreme sun sensitivity (photosensitivity)
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Chest pain (especially when taking a breath)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sores in the nose, mouth or throat (lesions and skin growths)
  • Poor blood circulation (in the fingers and toes)
  • Hair loss and bald patches
  • Chronic dry eyes

Less common, but notable symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Anaemia
  • Raynaud’s disease / syndrome
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (15% of Lupus patients have enlarged lymph nodes)



10. Maidhof W, Hilas O. Lupus: An Overview of the Disease And Management Options. Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 2012;37(4):240-246, 249. Accessed December 17, 2018.

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