Lupus sufferers may initially complain of malaise or depression, fever, joint pain, and fatigue. Eventually, symptoms multiply, and can result in any number of the following types of manifestations of the disease:
- Dermatological, often involving thick, red, scaly patches or lesions on the skin in various locations, including the face, scalp, fingers, and genitalia – up to half of all sufferers experience skin-related symptoms
- Musculoskeletal, specifically joint pain, usually in the small joints of the hand and wrist, though less disabling than with rheumatoid arthritis and lacking any of the destructive or erosive side effects of that disease – it is thought that the majority of lupus sufferers will experience joint and/or muscle pain at some point in their illness.
- Hematological, or blood disorder, such as anemia and other syndromes, some of which can complicate pregnancies – half of lupus patients may experience a blood disorder of some kind.
- Vascular, specifically occurrences of Raynaud’s phenomenon, comprised of colour changes, numbness and pain in the fingers, caused by spasms and constriction of blood vessels; it is estimated that 20% of lupus sufferers experience Raynaud’s.
- Cardiac, specifically inflammation of the valves or structure of the heart, or progressive hardening of the arterial walls
- Pulmonary, specifically a wide variety of harmful consequences of inflammation in the lung and related membranes
- Renal, often consisting of blood or protein in the urine, but potentially progressing towards lupus nephritis, or lupus-related kidney disease than can lead to kidney failure – very serious, but highly preventable
- Neuropsychiatric and neurological, or mental disorders directly related to the incursion of lupus in the central nervous system; many neuropsychiatric syndromes, ranging from headaches, to mood and anxiety disorders, to seizures and other motor or sensory-related, can be attributed to lupus, though diagnosis and attribution can be highly challenging
- Reproductive, including increased rates of miscarriage and fetal death
Additional side effects from lupus symptoms include alopecia, or hair loss; generally, this can occur with systemic lupus as part of the overall disease manifestation, and will often reverse once the disease is under active treatment and management.
However, in cases where discoid rash develops, the hair loss can be permanent, as hair follicles will be permanently damaged by inflammation characteristic of skin lesions on the scalp.