In SLE symptoms tend to increase and decrease in a series of “flares” (periods of increased symptoms) followed by “remissions” (periods of decreased symptoms).


Symptoms include :

  • Fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss.


  • Joint symptoms
    • Muscle pain along with pain and swelling of the joints.
    • Small joints of the fingers are most often affected, as well as the wrists and knees.
    • Pain may be migratory (moving from one joint to another) in nature.
    • Unlike other inflammatory arthritis symptoms may begin during pregnancy and there may be a past history of spontaneous abortions.


  • Skin symptoms
    • typical butterfly shaped rash across the cheek and nose which is photosensitive (sensitive to sunlight).
    • discoid rash may be seen in some cases. This rash appears as a firm, round red plaques with raised borders.
    • Mildly painful ulcers in the mouth, nose and genital regions.
    • Alopecia (loss of hair)


Butterfly Shaped Rash

  • Heart problems : SLE may cause inflammation of heart muscles resulting in abnormal heart rhythm and heart failure.


  • Lung problems : It can cause inflammatory process in the lung causing fibrosing alveolitis and pneumonitis resulting in painful breathing, impairment of ventilation and gaseous exchange in the lungs.


  • Neurological symptoms : Some Patients may present with these symptoms.
    • Psychiatric disturbances like severe depression, dementia (loss of memory), fits, hallucinations.
    • Other feature may include cranial nerve lesions, hemiplegia (paralysis of half side of the body), cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy.


  • Eye symptoms
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Blurring of vision
    • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of conjunctiva), episcleritis (inflammation of sclera) which can lead to loss of vision.


  • Kidney problems : Involvement of kidneys is a very serious complication of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus as it may result in nephrotic syndrome and renal failure.


  • Other symptoms may include
    • Pain or swelling in limbs due to thrombosis (blood clots)
    • Pain in abdomen due to inflammation of peritoneum (lining of abdominal cavity), pancreas, spleen or blood vessels.
    • Enlargement of spleen and lymphadenopathy (enlargement of lymph glands).