Symptoms and Signs of Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

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Medically Reviewed on 3/4/2022

Doctor's Notes on Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus or lupus) is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks various organs or cells in the body. It can be a mild to severe disease that may relapse periodically. Signs and symptoms are related to the affected organs. However, initial signs and symptoms are

  • fever,
  • muscle/joint pains, and
  • fatigue (the most bothersome symptom).

Organ systems have different signs and symptoms.

The exact cause(s) of SLE are not known but people with SLE likely share a common genetic link that, when triggered by environmental factors, results in SLE. Hormones may play a role as symptoms may wax and wane during a woman's period, and SLE in pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage and preterm birth. In addition, drugs may induce SLE (for example, procainamide, phenytoin, etanercept and others), but SLE symptoms cease once the drugs are stopped.

What Are the Treatments for Lupus (SLE or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)?

The general medication options used to control and/or reduce the symptoms, signs, and occasional flares of SLE are as follows with some drug examples:

In addition, some clinical trials of drugs like voclosporin may be additional effective future treatments. Medications for SLE and their dosage may need to change over time; follow up with your doctor can help you get optimal SLE care.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus : Test Your SLE IQ Quiz

Lupus Quiz

Lupus is an infection.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.