See a doctor Skip to content

What are lupus symptoms?

It's hard to say exactly what symptoms you will experience with lupus. Because no two cases are the same, they can vary, which also means it sometimes takes a while to get a diagnosis.

You may have mild symptoms most of the time, but experience flare ups which can last for a few weeks, causing more severe symptoms or new ones to develop.

Other people may have the same symptoms all of the time, or you may only have symptoms when experiencing flare ups.

The flare ups can often have triggers - again, these will very from person to person and we'll look at what can cause these later on.

Lupus mostly affects women of childbearing age, but it can impact anyone.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for it, but the earlier that it is caught, the easier it is to manage, so it is important that you speak to a doctor if you believe you may be showing symptoms of it.

Lupus symptoms

The most common symptoms of lupus are:

  • Joint pain and swelling

    This is most common in your hands and feet and is usually worse in the morning. In some people, only a few joints will be affected. In other people, many different joints may be painful.
  • Feeling exhausted and weak

    No matter how much rest or sleep you get, you will still feel very tired.
  • Skin rashes

    A lupus rash can appear on different parts of the body, but it is most common for them to appear on the bridge of the nose and cheeks (butterfly rash), hands and wrists. The rash may get worse if exposed to sunlight and can last from days to weeks, or sometimes longer.

Other symptoms of lupus

You may also have the following symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • Sensitivity to light (causing skin rashes)
  • A high temperature
  • Hair loss
  • Anaemia
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Headaches or migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Body aches
  • Tummy pain
  • Skin lesions
  • Dry eyes
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ankle swelling / fluid retention (oedema)
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon (a condition where the body limits the blood supply to the hands and feet, when it is cold)
  • Psychosis (problems telling the difference between imagination and reality, or problems thinking clearly)
In more severe cases of lupus, you may also experience:
  • Inflammation of your lungs heart and kidneys
  • Inflammation of your brain

These can be life threatening, which is why it is important that you seek advice if you believe that you could have lupus, or are struggling to manage a flare up.