Systemic lupus erythematosus: the signs not to be underestimated

More than 60,000 people in Italy are affected by systemic lupus erythematosus, with a prevalence in young women from the age of 15. SLE is an autoimmune disease that involves uncontrolled activation of the immune system, resulting in chronic inflammation that can affect any organ or system

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a difficult diagnosis

SLE is a difficult disease to diagnose, mainly because of the many possible manifestations and because many of its symptoms are also common in many other diseases; the presence of certain symptoms at the same time should prompt a referral to a rheumatologist.

Symptoms not to be underestimated in systemic lupus erythematosus

  • Unjustified weight loss. Lupus, as an autoimmune disease, can alter the metabolism and induce unjustified weight loss.
  • The presence of fever for prolonged periods and in the absence of signs of infection could also be linked to lupus.
  • Chronic asthenia. Chronic and persistent fatigue is typical of lupus, especially due to a reduction in haemoglobin values.
  • Spontaneous haematomas. Lupus can lead to low white blood cell and platelet counts, and these in particular are the cause of clotting disorders.
  • Urticaria.
  • Skin rashes. One of the characteristic signs of lupus is the so-called “butterfly erythema”. Significant skin rashes, especially on the face, should not be underestimated, especially if the problem occurs with sun exposure.
  • Dry mouth and eyes. This symptom can occur when the disease affects the salivary and lacrimal glands.
  • Lymph node enlargement. Like all diseases involving the immune system, lupus causes an overactivation of the lymph nodes, which increase in size and can sometimes be painful.
  • Hair loss. Most common in women aged 15 to 50, lupus can manifest itself in the loss of strands of hair without leaving scars.
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon: If hands and feet turn white, then blue and then red in the cold for about 20 minutes, it may be Raynaud’s phenomenon, which, although more common with other diseases, may also suggest lupus.
  • Joint pain, which occurs mainly in the morning (with long-lasting stiffness on awakening) and then becomes less intense during the day.
  • Chest pain. Lupus can inflame the serous membranes of the lungs and heart causing pleurisy and pericarditis, resulting in chest pain (different from that of a heart attack).
  • Headache, depression and other neurological symptoms of recent onset. The nervous system can also be affected by lupus, with the manifestation of various neurological symptoms, including hallucinations and forms of psychosis or ischaemic stroke.
  • Edema and diffuse swelling. The kidneys are the organs most frequently affected by lupus, but this usually does not affect the ability to urinate until very advanced. In severe cases, kidney failure may occur with loss of large amounts of protein and significant swelling, especially of the lower limbs, within a short period of time.
  • Recurrent miscarriages. Blood clotting problems can also make it difficult to carry a pregnancy to term.

Read Also:

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