Lupus – symptoms, causes, risk factors and other complications

Lupus symptoms causes

Lupus is also known as systemic lupus erythematosus. This is a chronic inflammatory disease which is happening when the immune system of your own body is attacking your own tissues and organs. We know that the normal function of our immune system is to protect the body from infection. Inflammation that is caused by lupus can affect many different body systems in which are included your lungs, heart, brain, blood cells, kidneys, skin and joints. This condition can be difficult to be diagnosed because its signs and symptoms mimic those of other ailments. It is shown that the facial rash which resembles the wings of a butterfly unfolding across both cheeks is the most distinctive sign of lupus. This sign is happening in most cases, but not in all. There are some people who are born with the tendency toward developing lupus which can be triggered by certain drugs, infections or even sunlight. There is no cure for lupus, but the treatments of it can help to control the symptoms. There was one study done by the Lupus Foundation of America in which was said that 1.5 million people in the United States of America live with lupus. [1]

Symptoms of lupus

You should know that no two cases of this disease are exactly alike. Signs and symptoms of it can come on suddenly or develop slowly. They can be mild or severe and they can be temporary or permanent. Most people who suffer from this condition have mild disease that is characterized by episodes, called flares, when their signs and symptoms get worse for a while, then they improve or even they disappear completely for a time. The signs and symptoms which some person will experience depend on which body systems are affected by lupus. Here are the most common signs and symptoms

  • Headaches, confusion and memory loss
  • Dry eyes
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen joints (arthritis)
  • Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Unexplained fever (more than 100F)
  • You can have skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
  • Butterfly – shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose
  • Hair loss
  • Achy joints (arthralgia)
  • Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
  • Prolonged or extreme fatigue

If you have persistent aching or fatigue, ongoing fever or unexplained rash, then you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.


Causes of lupus

This disease is happening when the immune system of your body is attacking healthy tissue in your body. It is likely that is happening as a combination of the environment and your genetics. There are some studies in which is shown that people who have genetic predisposition for lupus may develop it, when they come into contact with something in their environment which can trigger the lupus [2,3]. But in the most cases, the cause for lupus is not known. Here are some potential triggers of lupus:

  • Medications: There are some types of anti – seizure medications, blood pressure medications and antibiotics which can trigger lupus. People who have drug – induced lupus, usually will notice that their symptoms go away when they stop taking their medications. [3]
  • Sunlight: It is shown that when someone is exposed to sun, then it can bring on lupus skin lesions or it can trigger an internal response in susceptible people. [4]
  • Infections: If someone has an infection, then it can initiate lupus or it can cause a relapse in some people. [5]

Risk factors: Here are some factors which can increase your risk of lupus:

  • Race: It is known fact that lupus is more common in Asians, Hispanics and African – Americans.
  • Your sex: This disease is more common in women. [6]
  • Ages: It is shown that lupus can affect people from all ages but most often it is diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40. [7]

Complications: Inflammation that is caused by lupus can affect many areas of your body, including your:

  • Heart
  • Kidneys
  • Lungs
  • Brain and central nervous system
  • Blood and blood vessels

But also there are other types of complications which can increase your risk of:

  • Pregnancy complications
  • Infection
  • Bone tissue deaths (avascular necrosis)
  • Cancer


[1] Lupus Foundation of America. Lupus facts and statistics. 2016. Retrieved from

[2] Ramos PS, Brown EE, Kimberly RP, Langefeld CD. Genetic factors predisposing to systemic lupus erythematosus and lupus nephritis. Seminars in Nephrology. 2010;30(2):164–76.

[3] Touma Z, Gladman DD. Current and future therapies for SLE: obstacles and recommendations for the development of novel treatments. Lupus Science & Medicine. 2017;4(1).

[4] Universität Bonn. Lupus erythematosus and sunlight induced DNA Crash. Science Daily. 2013. Retrieved from

[5] Jung JY, Yoon D, Choi Y, et al. Associated clinical factors for serious infections in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Scientific Reports. 2019;9:9704.

[6] Joseph A. New study points to why so many more women develop lupus than men. Stat. 2018. Retrieved from

[7] Lupus Foundation of America. Risk factors for developing lupus. Retrieved from


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