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Lupus

Memory and fatigue problems

11/22/2000

Question:

Can you please tell me how lupus affects the brain. Can it cause a decrease in memory? Second question- How does one overcome the tremendous fatigue? sleep doesn`t seem to help. Thank you.

Answer:

1. Lupus can involve several organs in the body. The most serious involvement is considered to be kidney and nervous system involvement. The brain involvement has many `faces` and can manifest in neurological or psychiatric symptoms and signs. Patients may complain of memory or concentration impairment, headaches. Upon discussion they can manifest poor judgement, poor concentration, poor calculation ability. On the other end of the spectrum are people who present to hospital with strokes or in a coma or with a psychiatric emergency which is called psychosis. Of course, the approach and treatment are different according to the extent and severity of the problem.

2. The fatigue is very non-specific. Lupus which is active and not treated can present with severe fatigue. On the other hand the fatigue may have another cause: treatment itself if it involves aggressive immunosuppression, anemia, secondary fibromyalgia or depression in a chronic disease. Of course, the approach is different for those causes and I suggest you discuss with your rheumatologist the symptoms.

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Response by:

Yolanda   Farhey, MD Yolanda Farhey, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati