The signs and symptoms of lupus can vary from one person to the next, and some are more common than others.

Common Symptoms
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, and joints (may include pain and redness).
  • Muscle pain
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Dry eyes and dry mouth
  • Vaginal dryness/painful intercourse
  • Headaches
  • Fever for several days (call you doctor — this can be from an infection!) 
  • Confusion, trouble thinking (“brain fog”) or memory loss
  • Skin sensitivity to sunlight or fluorescent light (causing a new or worsening rash)
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Chest pain when breathing deeply, or shortness of breath.
  • Hair loss.
  • Skin rashes, especially across the nose and cheeks
  • Skin sores or sores in the mouth and nose that won’t heal
  • Blood clots
  • Anemia (low blood cell count)
  • Numbness and a bluish or white color in the fingers and toes when cold or stressed (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Recurrent pregnancy loss
  • Blood in urine or foamy urine
  • Low appetite
  • Mood changes (sadness, depression)
  • Sexual dysfunction

Symptoms may develop suddenly or slowly, and they may come and go. Symptoms may occur with a lupus flare, but some, like dry eyes and fatigue, can occur even during remission when flares have settled down. Many people with lupus describe certain experiences or exposures — “triggers” — that bring on symptoms.

Common Triggers
  • Infections, including the common cold
  • Tobacco smoke and e-cigarettes
  • Chemical or industrial product exposure
  • Ultraviolet light exposure, including sunlight and fluorescent light.
  • Certain medications that increase sunlight sensitivity, like sulfa drugs such as Bactrim and Septra, in some people.(trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) and certain tetracycline drugs like Minocin (minocycline). Be sure to check with your clinician before stopping or changing your medications!
  • Exhaustion and any other emotional or physical stress, including surgery, injury, pregnancy, or childbirth
  • Certain herbal supplements
  • Alfalfa
  • Medication changes
  • Chronic sleep disorders

Avoiding or preparing as well as possible for situations and exposures that can trigger a lupus flare is an important part of managing the disease. Your care team can also recommend medications, tailored to your particular needs, that will help keep symptoms in check or slow any disease progress that might occur.

Common Treatments
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (NSAIDS and acetaminophen).
  • Corticosteroids, also known as glucocorticoids, prednisone, or steroids.
  • Antimalarial drugs like hydroxychloroquine
  • Immunosuppressive agents (immune modulators).
  • Anticoagulants.
  • Monoclonal antibodies.
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG)

Click here for more information on when and how these treatments might be used, and about their potential effects. Remember: Your Health Advisor is here to help you. Reach out!