Serious Conditions Associated with Lupus


Depression: With depression, people may feel helpless, hopeless, or overwhelmed. They may find it difficult to get through the day. Depression can occur as a result of lupus or be caused by the drugs used to treat it, especially cortico-steroids. Warning signs include:

  • depressed mood
  • significant weight loss or gain
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • extreme tiredness and lack of energy
  • decreased concentration or an inability to make a decision
  • feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to carry out simple tasks, such as personal hygiene, housework, or childcare
  • feelings of hopelessness about various aspects of life
  • unusual anger or irritability
  • recurrent thoughts of death and suicide

Osteonecrosis: This is a condition that usually affects the hip joint, but may occur in other joints such as the knees, ankles, or shoulders. Blood supply to the hip is reduced and, over time, leads to severe degenerative arthritis. Osteonecrosis is considered to be a side effect of corticosteroid therapy and not a manifestation of SLE itself. Warning signs include:

  • sharp pain in the groin or buttocks that may radiate down the back of the leg
  • decreased exercise tolerance
  • stiffness of the hips
  • increased pain and difficulty in walking after exercise

Pancreatitis: In pancreatitis, the pancreas (an organ involved in digestion and in producing hormones that regulate blood sugar levels) becomes inflamed. It is a very serious problem that must be treated immediately. Warning signs include:

  • sharp, intense pain at the level of the belly button that radiates around to the back
  • nausea and vomiting
  • new or higher-than-usual fever

Acute abdomen: This is a condition that describes the sudden onset of abdominal pain. A variety of serious problems can cause this condition. You should see your doctor immediately if you develop acute abdomen. Warning signs include:

  • abdominal pain that may be severe and radiate throughout the abdominal area
  • nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
  • change in usual bowel movements
  • vomiting blood or blood in the stool

Vision problems: Changes in vision can be a result of lupus or because of the corticosteroids and antimalarials used to treat lupus. Problems can include inflammation of the eye, glaucoma, cataracts, general changes in vision, and blocked tear ducts. On very rare occasions, blindness can result. Warning signs include:

  • development of a rash over the eyelids
  • mucus discharge from the eye
  • blurred vision
  • sensitivity to light
  • headaches
  • a sore, red eye
  • lack of tears, and eyes that hurt and are dry
  • episodes of flashing lights and partial blindness
WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health


"The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of The National Institutes of Health. Serious Conditions Associated With Lupus. Last revised, January 26, 1999. (Online)"