Lupus throws up a whole array of symptoms which can vary from person to person. These symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening, depending on which parts of the body are affected. To make life that little bit more confusing, there’s often no apparent reason why symptoms first show up or any helpful warning before they reappear.
Some people can go months or even years symptom-free, while others only have small bouts of rest bite before the next onslaught. Where symptoms are particularly severe or new symptoms develop it is called having a ‘flare up’.
The three most common and downright disruptive symptoms of Lupus are fatigue, joint pain, and rashes.
Chronic fatigue is (for me at least) probably one of the most frustrating and upsetting symptoms to contend with. This is not helped in part by the fact that fatigue is difficult to explain and completely impossible for others to understand. To the casual observer, someone suffering from fatigue would appear to be nothing more than a malingering couch potato who moans incessantly about feeling tired.
But let’s be quite clear about this one: feeling overwhelmingly exhausted all of the time is a deeply depressing way to live. It can have an incredibly negative impact on your mental and physical state, never mind your quality of family, work and social life. Even the laziest person in the world would never choose to choose to live this way.
Chronic pain in Lupus normally affects joints, such as the hands and feet, thought it can quickly migrate from one set of joints to another. It can be excruciatingly painful and enough to drive you mad, or at the very least make you whimper or cry. On a positive note, unlike other conditions, Lupus is unlikely to cause your joints to become permanently damaged or deformed.
Rashes are another common infliction. Appearing mostly on the face, wrists, and hands, the most infamous of these would probably be the rash over the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, known as a ‘butterfly rash’ or ‘malar rash’. Rashes are the most obvious symptoms of a normally very secretive and invisible disease. It’s as if Lupus slapped it’s unlucky victim right across the face for all the world to see. These rashes can be itchy and painful and last for anything from a few days to life. Expose to sunlight (known as photosensitivity) can make them worse.
Of course, there are also a whole heap of other symptoms to collect as well, although it’s unlikely a person would be so unlucky as to have the full set.
• swollen lymph glands
• recurring mouth ulcers
• alopecia (hair loss)
• hypertension (high blood pressure)
• oedema (ankle swelling and fluid retention)
• headaches and migraines
• memory loss
• stomach and chest pains
• dry eyes
• shortness of breath
• Raynaud’s phenomenon