The symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can vary from person to person. Some people may only experience a few mild symptoms, while others may be more severely affected.
Your SLE symptoms may also appear in ‘flare-ups’. This means that although you may always have mild symptoms of SLE, they may become more severe during a flare-up.
The primary symptoms of SLE
The primary symptoms of SLE are listed below.
- Fatigue – you may feel tired and lacking in energy, even when you have had an adequate amount of sleep.
- Joint pain – you are most likely to experience joint pain in your hands and feet. You may find that the pain changes from one set of joints to another quite quickly. However, unlike some other conditions that affect the joints, SLE is unlikely to cause your joints to become permanently damaged or deformed.
- Skin rashes – SLE skin rashes most commonly develop on the face, wrists and hands. A rash over your cheeks and the bridge of your nose is particularly common, and is known as a ‘butterfly rash’. Skin rashes that are caused by SLE may be permanent, and be made worse with exposure to sunlight.
As well as the primary symptoms listed above, SLE can also cause a number of other symptoms. However, if you have SLE, it is unlikely that you will have all of the symptoms listed below, and many people with the condition will only experience the primary symptoms. However, other symptoms may include:
- Weight loss or weight gain.
- Swollen lymph glands.
- Recurring mouth ulcers.
- Hair loss (alopecia).
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- Depression and anxiety.
- Anaemia (a condition which can cause fatigue and shortness of breath).
- Raynaud’s phenomenon (a condition which limits the blood supply to your hands).