SLE can be felt as fever and fatigue for several months accompanied by pain and swelling of the joints, as well as rashes over the cheeks and sun exposed parts of the body. In its worst presentation, the patient can come pale and weak, with edema, headache, convulsions and even strokes. Since it is most common in young to middle-aged females who are in the working and reproductive age, lupus is a major cause of disability and economic burden to individual families and the health system of the country.
Lupus symptoms are common to other conditions, too, which can make diagnosis difficult. Common lupus symptoms include:
- Constant fatigue
- Achy joints
- A butterfly-shaped rash around the cheeks and nose
- Hair loss
- Blood clots
- Sensitivity to light
- Chest pain when breathing
- Mouth sores
- Swelling in the extremities or around the eyes
How is lupus diagnosed?
The diagnosis of lupus is made when a young or middle-aged female comes with many inflamed body parts – arthritis, skin lesions (rashes in the faces, sensitivity to sun exposure), ulcers in the mouth, edema around the ankles and legs, and usually prolonged fever. The patient can be pale and weak-looking. She is usually mistaken for someone with infection, but over time, treatment for infections does not relieve symptoms. A helpful blood examination, ANA, strengthens the diagnosis of lupus. While it is rare in males, symptoms are similar to those in females and should warn the patient and physician of the possibility of lupus.