Signs and Symptoms of Lupus
Lupus is a very variable condition. While it has many characteristic symptoms, most patients will never experience all of them. Similarly, no two patients experience identical symptoms.
The severity of the disease also varies. In some patients symptoms appear suddenly and are relatively severe, while in others the disease remains at a low level for several years before diagnosis. For most patients, however, the frightening descriptions of life-threatening disease in medical textbooks never occur, and the condition remains mild and readily manageable.
Lupus runs an unpredictable course. For some people, symptoms subside after treatment of the initial acute attack. For others, periods of “remission” are punctuated by brief “flare-ups” of disease.
Several symptoms may be seen in the initial stages of lupus. These include:
- Fatigue, weakness and lethargy
- Joint pain or swelling (experienced by about half of patients)
- Skin rashes (around one in five patients)
Download the ‘Anatomy of Lupus’ mini-poster below.
Coping and support
If you have lupus, you’re likely to have a range of painful feelings about your condition, from fear to extreme frustration. The challenges of living with lupus increase your risk of depression and related mental health problems, such as anxiety, stress and low self-esteem. Stress is a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious. Learning healthy ways to cope and getting the right care and support can help reduce stressful feelings and symptoms.
To help you cope with lupus, try to:
Learn all you can about lupus. Write down any questions you have about lupus as they occur to you so that you can ask them at your next appointment. Ask your doctor or nurse for reputable sources of further information. The more you know about lupus, the more confident you’ll feel in your treatment choices.
Gather support among your friends and family. Talk about lupus with your friends and family and explain ways they can help out when you’re having flares. Lupus can be frustrating for your loved ones because they usually can’t see it, and you may not appear sick. Family and friends can’t tell if you’re having a good day or a bad day unless you tell them. Be open about what you’re feeling so that your loved ones know what to expect.
Take time for yourself. Cope with stress in your life by taking time for yourself. Use that time to read, meditate, listen to music or write in a journal. Find activities that calm and renew you. Self care is important, lots of sleep up to 12 hours and try not to stress keep your mind occupied.