Complications of Lupus - Topic Overview
Blood-related problems are
common in people who have lupus, but they do not always cause detectable
symptoms. These problems, which in a few cases are severe and even
- Changes in red blood cells, which carry oxygen;
white blood cells, which fight infection; and platelets, which help the blood
- Anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia), low white blood cell count (leukopenia), or low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). Anemia can be caused by both lupus
and the medicines used to treat it.
- Changes in organs related to
circulation, such as the
- Production of antibodies that
attack certain blood-clotting factors, causing the blood to clot easily. These
antibodies are produced by about 1 out of 3 people who have lupus.1 They can cause a condition, called
antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, which can lead to
mild or severe blood-clotting complications.
Nervous system problems
Neurological (nervous system) problems associated with lupus
- Mild memory loss, trouble concentrating, and
errors in insight and judgment.
- Headaches, which are common but are
usually related to stress and tension.
Migraine headaches occur in many people who have
- Nervous system problems that cause vision disturbance,
dizziness, muscle weakness in the face, arms, or legs, or loss of temperature
or pain sensation in the feet, hands, arms, or legs (cranial or
- Seizures. They may be caused by problems with blood
pressure, infections, or inflammation in blood vessels in the
- Strokes, ranging from mild to severe.
Mental health problems
The physical and emotional
stress of coping with a chronic illness can make it difficult to maintain good
- Many people with lupus become
depressed, or both.
- Psychosis, a mental-behavioral disorder in which a
person may have delusions (firmly held but false beliefs) or hallucinations
(false perceptions) or both, is seen in some people who have lupus. It can be caused by the
disease or by medicines such as tranquilizers, corticosteroids, or narcotic
- Manic behavior, including unusually high levels of
energy and activity, difficulty sleeping, and irritability, can occur as a
corticosteroid treatment for lupus. It is usually not
serious and goes away when the medicine is discontinued.