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Understanding a lupus diagnosis

If your doctor has diagnosed lupus, you likely have concerns about how the disease will affect your ability to work. This chronic autoimmune condition has wide-ranging effects on the body as the immune system attacks healthy cells.

Review the symptoms associated with lupus and the treatments that may help reduce the impact of the disease.

The physical impact of lupus

Lupus can cause many diverse physical effects, which vary among individuals who have this disease. Some of the symptoms you may experience include:

  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of the glands, face or legs
  • Oral sores or ulcers
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Discolored (purple or pale) fingers and toes
  • Hair loss
  • Pain in the chest with deep breaths
  • Red rash on the face or other parts of the body
  • Unexplained fever
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Painful or swollen joints

Because these symptoms often mirror those of other conditions, it can be difficult to get the correct diagnosis for lupus.

Treatment options for lupus

Many people experience lupus symptoms in “flares,” which means that the disease worsens for a few weeks or months before getting better for a while. Treatment focuses on reducing the frequency and severity of these flares.

You may need to see several different health care providers to help manage your lupus. For example, a rheumatologist treats joint inflammation while a dermatologist would treat symptoms such as rash and hair loss. Your health care team may prescribe medications and recommend lifestyle changes to improve the quality of life with this disease.

When you cannot work because of the impact of lupus on your life, you may be able to receive benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance program.