Early Lupus Signs

The Mayo Clinic describes lupus as a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own organs and tissues. People suffering from this illness experience painful inflammation and tissue damage throughout the body. Affected areas of the body include the skin and joints, as well as major organs like the kidneys, heart and lungs. The disease is known to take on a number of different forms; however, the actual cause of lupus is not yet entirely understood by the medical community.

Extreme Fatigue

Physical exhaustion or malaise is one of the most commonly reported symptoms associated with lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. This fatigue is a result of additional factors or symptoms that are related to the disease, specifically anemia.


Anemia refers to decreased levels of hemoglobin in the body. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein that helps to transport oxygen from the lungs to the body’s various tissues via the red blood cells. Decreased production of red blood cells can result from inflammation, iron deficiency and potential kidney problems. Approximately half of all lupus sufferers also experience anemia.

Swollen Joints

Joint pain is a common symptom often associated with lupus. These types of pains tend to subside and subsequently recur with varying frequencies. Arthritic pain resulting from lupus is most often felt within the wrists, hands, knees and ankles. Anti-inflammatory and corticosteroid medications are commonly prescribed to relieve these particular symptoms.

Skin Rashes

Rashes resulting from lupus may be one of the most telling and important signs of illness that can lead to the proper identification of this difficult to diagnose disease. Sufferers often experience sores or red spots about the arms, face and mouth. Others may experience what is referred to as a “butterfly rash,” which generally appears over the cheeks and bridge of the nose.


Swelling of the hands and/or feet (edema) may result due to kidney issues associated with lupus. The loss of protein in the urine resulting from lupus-related kidney problems may allow for fluids to collect and be retained within the hands and feet, leading to painful swelling conditions.


Skin rashes in lupus patients may develop (or existing sores may worsen) as a result of extreme sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Sunlight can also trigger joint-related pains in those suffering from this illness. There are also some medications that can amplify the effects sunlight can have on one’s body. Make sure to discuss with your doctor any new prescription drugs you may be starting if you have already been diagnosed with lupus.

About this Author

Demi Buckley’s 10 years of professional writing experience have included investigational and technical writing positions for some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry, including Abbott Laboratories and Baxter Health Care. He earned his B.S. in biology (with a minor in English/creative writing) from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.