What Are the Most Common Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Symptoms?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 17 May 2020
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A list of the most common systemic lupus erythematosus symptoms almost always begins with joint pain and fevers. Other symptoms that frequently occur include skin rashes, sensitivity to light, and fatigue. As the immune system weakens, the body typically becomes susceptible to infections, particularly kidney infections. Most people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have a unique set of symptoms, and they don’t always have the most common ones.

Joint pain and fevers as systemic lupus erythematosus symptoms are worth discussing because 90% of people with this condition experience them. Patients may experience pain in any joint and it can be specific to one area of the body or more profuse. Sometimes the pain is worse in the morning and evening, with some improvement during most of the day. The pain may occur in brief flares or be present most of the time. Fevers are usually low, and they can’t be attributed to other causes, like an ongoing illness.

Rashes of different types are often described as common systemic lupus erythematosus symptoms. Some are directly tied to sunlight exposure and may most often occur when people are in the sun. New medications may also be the cause of a rash. Patients may alternately be prone to skin bumps, especially on the legs, that can become infected. Additionally, some people develop the butterfly rash of SLE, which spreads over the nose and cheeks, but this is not as common as other symptoms.

Many patients with SLE complain of chronic fatigue or simply feeling unwell. They may not have the energy to complete all normal tasks, and they might report that they feel ill if they do too much. This fatigue is often accompanied by greater vulnerability to other illnesses. Systemic lupus erythematosus symptoms can also include susceptibility to more viruses and to complications from them, like bacterial infections. Though things like kidney infections occur most often, a person with SLE might also be at greater risk for bacterial pneumonia from the flu, for instance.

The other types of common symptoms show great variance. Some people become prone to depression or anxiety, and others get headaches. About a third of the time, systemic lupus erythematosus symptoms include developing fibromyalgia or arthritis. Myocarditis and pericarditis, two heart inflammatory conditions, can occur, as can pleurisy, an inflammation of tissues around the lungs.

The degree to which systemic lupus erythematosus symptoms manifest varies with success of treatment and the individual disease course. Many people with mild disease respond well to treatment and won’t have numerous symptoms. A smaller percentage of patients will have more symptoms, but may still expect an ordinary life span. In a few patients the disease is very aggressive, the number of symptoms is high, and life quality or expectancy may be impaired.


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