Health + Wellness

11 Ways Lupus Can Affect Your Body

how lupus affects the body

Lupus is two to three times more common and its symptoms tend to be more severe among Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans and Asians than Caucasians.

Complications can be severe, leading to organ damage and even death. Among young Black and Hispanic women ages 15-34, lupus is the 5th and 6th leading cause of death just behind cancer, heart disease and HIV. Lupus nephritis (kidney inflammation) is among the most common and serious complications.

Here are 11 ways lupus can affect your body, according to the Lupus Research Alliance:

1. Skin

If lupus attacks the skin, as it does in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), it can cause rashes, blisters and color changes.

What you can do: As a lupus patient, it is even more important to protect your skin from the sun. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 or higher, and avoid the sun in the middle of the day. If you must be in the sun, it is also wise to wear wide-brimmed hats and protective clothing in the sun. During the colder months, you should keep your hands warm to avoid Raynaud’s.

2. Joints

Lupus can cause inflammation or swelling of the joint lining, most often in the hands and wrists. People with lupus can also experience pain in the joints without swelling or tenderness.

What you can do: Looking to go the natural route? Try a warm shower or bath, a heating pad, or cold packs to ease pain and stiffness. When exercising, you should avoid high-intensity exercises if you have joint pain. Walking and yoga are both safe exercises to try. If these don’t provide you relief, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen may help.

RELATED: What You Need to Know About Lupus

3. Hair loss

Partial or complete loss of the hair is called alopecia. It can be hereditary, stress-induced, or caused by autoimmune conditions such as lupus.

What you can do: To avoid hair loss, you should be gentle on your hair. It may also help to use a baby shampoo and conditioner and avoid harsh chemicals on your hair.

4. Fatigue

The severe fatigue of lupus seems to be caused by many factors including disease activity, anxiety disorders, sleep disturbances, vitamin D deficiency, and low levels of exercise.

5. Kidneys

Inflammation of the kidneys (nephritis) can impair their ability to get rid of

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