How Lupus Affects Your Body

Kidneys

Lupus can inflame the kidneys, causing permanent damage. This can lead to swelling in the legs and high blood pressure. Your doctor will look for protein or blood cells in your urine, which are signs of kidney damage. Sometimes, lupus can lead to kidney failure and require dialysis.

What you can do:

Tell your doctor if you have symptoms of kidney problems, such as swelling in your ankle or lower leg, foamy urine, or blood in your urine.

Keep up with checkups with your lupus doctor, or rheumatologist, who will do blood tests to make sure your kidneys are working well.

Brain and Central Nervous System

Lupus can affect your brain and the nerves in your spinal cord in several ways. If it does, you may have:

  • Clouded thinking, confusion, or memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Rarely, strokes

What you can do:

Ease stress. Try yoga or tai chi to reduce stress and relax muscles.

Use reminders. Pillboxes, Post-its, your cell phone voice recorder, labels, and other aids can help you remember and organize.

Get help. Build a strong support network. Consider cognitive therapy to manage thinking issues, or counseling if you are anxious or depressed. Lupus medicine may help memory and thinking.

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