Listening to your body is even more important when you’re living with lupus. This is because different things can cause lupus symptoms to get worse or “flare,” such as spending too much time in the sun.
It is important to notice when symptoms change, or come and go. Try to talk as openly as you can with members of your healthcare team about your symptoms and how they are affecting you. Keeping the lines of communication open lets everyone know when it’s time to explore different options and make adjustments that may help in managing your symptoms.
Some common lupus symptoms
One of the things that makes lupus difficult to diagnose and manage is that its symptoms can vary from person to person. Even your own symptoms may change over time, depending on which body systems the lupus is targeting. Not everyone living with lupus will have every lupus symptom, but the following list includes some of the most common:
- Extreme fatigue that doesn’t go away with rest
- Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
- Fever over 100°F
- Muscle pain
- Hair loss
- A rash in a butterfly pattern across the cheek and nose
- Other skin rashes with or without sun exposure
- Nose or mouth sores (usually painless)
- Discolored, painful, or numb fingers and toes brought on by cold or stress (also called Raynaud Syndrome)
- Memory loss
Lupus and the inflammation it causes can affect the functioning of many of the body’s internal organs. Some of those complications can involve a person’s:
- Kidneys. Kidney problems are common in lupus. Signs of kidney problems include generalized itching, nausea, vomiting, leg swelling, and weight gain.
- Neurological function. This can include headaches, dizziness, behavior changes, confusion, memory problems, and seizures.
- Blood. Lupus can cause anemia and increased risk of bleeding or blood clotting.
- Lungs. If the lining of the chest cavity becomes inflamed, it can make breathing painful; most lung complications from lupus (such as a noninfectious form of pneumonia) can be monitored through pulmonary tests.
- Heart. Lupus can cause inflammation of the heart muscle, heart membrane, and arteries, leading to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. However, the risk can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol, exercising regularly, and not smoking. Making these healthy lifestyle changes also can benefit a person’s overall lupus management.
Lupus Impact Tracker is a trademark of Rush University Medical Center and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.