The symptoms of SLE vary from mild to extremely severe and debilitating. In some patients, only one part of the body—for example, the skin—is affected. In others, many parts of the body are affected. Each case is unique in the symptoms that it produces. Though symptoms of SLE can be chronic, they usually flare up and subside intermittently.
General symptoms include: FatigueFever without signs of infectionSwollen, enlarged lymph nodes which may be felt around the throatUnexplained weight loss or loss of appetiteShortness of breath
Musculoskeletal symptoms include: Arthritis
—inflammation of the joints
Arthralgia—pain in the jointsInflammation of the musclesMuscle weakness
Skin symptoms include: Characteristic butterfly-shaped rash over the nose and cheeksPhotosensitivity—sensitivity to sun and lightHair lossRaynaud's phenomenon
—reduced circulation resulting in numbness, or blue or white fingertips when cold
Red or purple rashHives
Butterfly Rash on the Face
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Gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
Neuropsychiatric symptoms include:
Psychiatric disorders, such as
—nerve pain or numbness
Inflammation around one or both sides the spinal cord, which may lead to pain, muscle stiffness, or paralysis
SLE may cause complications during pregnancy. There may be a flare-up of symptoms, kidney problems, or
. There is also an increased risk of
, or growth problems with the baby during pregnancy.
Handout on health: Systemic lupus erythematosus. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lupus/default.asp. Updated August 2011. Accessed June 28, 2013.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated June 13, 2013. Accessed June 28, 2013.
What are the symptoms for developing lupus? Lupus Foundation of America website. Available at:
http://www.lupus.org/webmodules/webarticlesnet/templates/new_learnunderstanding.aspx?articleid=2235&zoneid=523. Accessed June 28, 2013.
5/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Smyth A, Oliveira GH, et al.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of pregnancy outcomes in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and lupus nephritis.
Clin J Am Soc Nephrol.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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