Lupus – Not a Cookie Cutter Illness


When we hear that someone has lupus, we tend to think of it as one illness…

One illness with a very specific set of symptoms…

In both cases, we would be wrong.

Lupus is a very complex group of illnesses that not only vary by type but also in how they affect individual patients.  No two lupus patients and their symptoms are alike.

The fact is there are several types of lupus[1]:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) – the most common type of lupus and what most people are thinking of when they say someone has lupus.
• Life Threatening Lupus – a form of SLE that affects one or more of the patient’s vital organs such as their heart, lungs, kidneys or liver.
Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE) – only affects the skin.
Drug Induced Lupus – caused by medications.  The symptoms are like the symptoms of SLE but will go away once the patient stops taking the particular medication that caused it.
Lupus in Overlap with other Connective Tissue Diseases – this is a type of lupus in which the patient has some other disease that affects the joints and tendons as well like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleroderma, Sjogren’s Syndrome or Vasculitis.

All of these forms of lupus are serious and incurable.  Once you have any of these forms of lupus, you have it for life.  Granted, you will have flares (episodes of active lupus symptoms) and remissions (when you’re symptoms aren’t present or are really mild), but you’re not cured.  The symptoms come and go but the illness always remains.

With all these variables, it can be tough to know if you have lupus or something else.

If have at least four of these symptoms, you need to see a doctor immediately for testing and diagnosis:[2]

• Chest pain when you take a deep breath or if you cough up blood
• Fatigue
• Headaches
• Numbness, tingling, vision problems
• Seizures
• Vision problems
• Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
• Abnormal heart rhythms
• Fever for no apparent reason
• A general feeling of discomfort and ill feeling
• Hair loss
• Sores in your mouth
• Sensitivity to sunlight
• A rash over your cheeks and nose
• Swollen lymph nodes

Many of these symptoms may be caused by the damage lupus does to the peripheral nervous system or peripheral neuropathy.  Because of the effects of lupus on the nervous system, a good place to start for diagnosis and treatment would be a physician well versed in diagnosing and treating nerve diseases and damage, like your local NeuropathyDR® clinician.

Exactly Why Are Lupus and Peripheral Neuropathy So Serious?

Because the peripheral nervous system can be affected by lupus, every system of the body that is regulated by the peripheral nervous system can be damaged.

That means the nerves that control involuntary body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and perspiration.  Your body many not be able to regulate your heart rate or your blood pressure, you might not be able to properly digest your food, or your kidneys can be damaged and you could develop urinary problems.  A little less than 5% of lupus patients develop cranial neuropathy (damage to the nerves in the brain) leading to headaches, vision problems, depression, and even personality disorders.

As if that weren’t enough, lupus can cause serious problems with inflammation.  That can lead to:

• Inflammation of the sac around the heart
• Diseases of the heart valves
• Inflammation of the actual heart muscle
• Inflammation of the tissue around the lungs or pleurisy

Now, imagine having any of these issues and having peripheral neuropathy, too…

Your peripheral nerves aren’t functioning properly and can’t send the proper signals to your brain to let you know you have a problem.

You can see why this could be very serious.

If you have at least four of the above symptoms, call your doctor or your local NeuropathyDR® clinician today.   Early intervention is one of the best ways to minimize the damage caused by lupus and peripheral neuropathy.   While your lupus isn’t curable, a combination of medication and the highly specialized treatment protocol available to you through your NeuropathyDR® clinician to minimize nerve damage can make your life bearable and your symptoms manageable.

For more information on coping with lupus and peripheral neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at

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