Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), otherwise known as lupus, is a chronic condition that results from a malfunctioning immune system.
The immune system is designed to identify foreign bodies (such as bacteria and viruses) and attack them to keep us healthy. However in the case of lupus, your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, causing inflammation in parts of the body such as the skin, joints, kidneys, heart and lungs.
Different people have different symptoms. Individuals can also experience different symptoms at different times. Symptoms can be vague. During a ‘flare’, symptoms may suddenly get worse.
Lupus can be very unpredictable. Some people have few symptoms after the initial flare. Others have periods of feeling well (known as remission) alternating with flares of disease.
Common symptoms include:
pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints, most often in your hands and feet
skin rashes that become worse after exposure to the sun
feeling tired, weak and unwell
People with lupus may have different types of skin rashes. Some people have a ‘butterfly rash’, which is a red or purple rash on the cheeks. Some people have red patches on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun. The patches may look like red rings. In discoid lupus, the patches can cause scarring or a change in skin colour.
Increased lupus activity can sometimes cause weight loss, and certain medications can cause loss of appetite. No matter what the cause of your weight loss, you should speak to your doctor to ensure that the loss does not indicate a more serious condition.
If you experience a loss of appetite due to your medications, your doctor may suggest alternative medications or solutions to ease stomach discomfort.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.