What are the signs and symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of Lupus generally vary according to which body systems are affected by the disease. This means that no two cases of Lupus will be exactly alike. But, in general, Lupus signs and symptoms will tend to include:
- Weight loss or gain
- Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
- Butterfly-shaped rash (malar rash) on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose
- Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure
- Mouth sores
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Easy bruising
- Memory loss
A person with Lupus may experience some or all of these symptoms, and these may appear suddenly or develop slowly, may be mild or severe in nature, and may be temporary or permanent.
Most people with Lupus have experience their symptoms to a mild degree characterized by episodes — called flares – with episodes called ‘flares’ where there symptoms worsen for a while, before improving or even disappearing completely for a time.
How do you get Lupus?
The exact cause of Lupus is not known. As in most human disease, it appears that Lupus develops as a result of a combination of genetic factors and environmental factors.
Lupus has strong genetic components. Recent studies show that the brother or sister of a Lupus patient is 25 times more likely to develop Lupus than someone in the general population. In 95% of cases, genetic susceptibility to Lupus is not caused by a single gene.
Multiple genes are involved. Environmental factors that can contribute to the development of this disease are certain medications, such as the cardiac medications procainamide and hydralazine, ultraviolet radiation, infection with Epstein-Barr virus and sex hormones – 90% of all cases of Lupus are found in women.