Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in connective tissues, such as cartilage and the lining of blood vessels, as well as joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms are generally like those of other diseases. The most distinctive sign of Lupus (a rash on the face that resembles the open wings of a butterfly on both cheeks) occurs in many cases of the disease but not all.
Some people are born with a tendency to suffer from Lupus, which can be triggered by infections, certain medications or even sunlight. While there is no cure currently for Lupus, treatments can help control symptoms.
The signs and symptoms of Lupus will depend on the body system affected by the disease.
The most common signs and symptoms are the following:
- Joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
- A butterfly-shaped rash on the face that encompasses the cheeks and bridge of the nose, or rashes in other parts of the body.
- Lesions occurring on the skin or that worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity).
- Toes and hands that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful situations (Raynaud’s phenomenon).
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
- Dry eyes.
- Headache, disorientation and memory loss.