Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease, affects mostly women. Like breast cancer, men aren’t usually brought into the equation when people discuss diseases like lupus. But they should, because although the disease is the same, it may show a bit differently and it may be more difficult for a man to be diagnosed, simply because it’s not on the radar.
Here’s the breadown:
Before menopause (around age 50), 90% of people with lupus are women
After menopause, 75% of people with lupus are women
That’s still a lot of men who may have the disease.
There is some disagreement among researchers and doctors about how different lupus is in men. Studies of men aren’t large enough to be able to make effective comparisons between men and women, but a few things have come up:
Lupus-caused arthritis is similar in both men and women
Drug-induced lupus erythematosus (DILE) is more common in men, but this could be because the medications that could cause DILE are often for illnesses that are more common in men than in women
There seems to be more severe kidney, nerve, and blood vessel disease in men
Disease severity doesn’t differ between men and women
Men who develop lupus later in life seem to have lower levels of testosterone
So what are the symptoms of lupus?
If you have any of these symptoms and haven’t been able to get a diagnosis, perhaps you could discuss the possibility of an autoimmune disease, like lupus, with your doctor. Since symptoms vary wildly depending on what part of the body is affected by the lupus, it’s entirely possible that two people with the disease have differing symptoms ( MedLinePlus ):
General discomfort, uneasiness or ill feeling (malaise)
Joint pain and swelling
Nausea and vomiting
Pleurisy (causes chest pain)
Sensitivity to sunlight
Skin rash — a “butterfly” rash over the cheeks and bridge of the nose affects about half of those with SLE. The rash gets worse when in sunlight. The rash may also be widespread.
Other symptoms could include:
Blood disorders, including blood clots
Blood in the urine
Coughing up blood
Fingers that change color upon pressure or in the cold
Numbness and tingling
Red spots on skin
Skin color is patchy
There is no cure for lupus, but there are treatments to treat the symptoms.