Understanding Lupus Symptoms in Men: Breaking Stereotypes and Seeking Awareness

June 11, 2023

Understanding Lupus Symptoms in Men: Breaking Stereotypes and Seeking Awareness

Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, affects millions of people worldwide, and while it’s commonly associated with women, it’s crucial to acknowledge that men can also be affected by lupus. However, due to the prevailing misconception that lupus primarily targets women, lupus symptoms in men often go unrecognized or misdiagnosed. In this post, we aim to shed light on common lupus symptoms in men, dispel stereotypes, and raise awareness about this important part of lupus community:

Lupus in Men: 

Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues. It can affect various organs, including the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain. While women are more commonly diagnosed with lupus, it’s estimated that around 10% of lupus cases occur in men.

Common Lupus Symptoms in Men:

Although lupus symptoms can vary widely among individuals, there are several common signs that men may experience:

  • Fatigue: Overwhelming exhaustion and a constant feeling of tiredness are common symptoms experienced by men with lupus.
  • Joint Pain and Swelling: Lupus can cause joint inflammation, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. Men may experience joint pain in areas such as the hands, wrists, knees, or ankles.
  • Skin Rash: A characteristic lupus rash, often triggered by sun exposure, may manifest as a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and bridge of the nose. However, it’s important to note that not all men with lupus develop this specific rash.
  • Photosensitivity: Men with lupus may exhibit an increased sensitivity to sunlight, leading to skin rashes, hives, or other allergic reactions.
  • Kidney Involvement: Lupus can affect the kidneys, leading to symptoms such as blood or protein in the urine, swelling in the legs or feet, and high blood pressure.
  • Other Symptoms: Men with lupus may also experience chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, cognitive difficulties, and gastrointestinal issues.
Challenges in Diagnosis:

Due to the misconception that lupus primarily affects women, men often face challenges in getting a timely and accurate diagnosis. Symptoms may be attributed to other conditions or overlooked entirely. Raising awareness about lupus in men is crucial to ensure early detection, appropriate treatment, and improved quality of life.

  • Awareness and Perception: Due to the prevalence of lupus in women, there can be a lack of awareness that men can also develop this disease. This can lead to a delay in considering lupus as a possible diagnosis when men present with symptoms.
  • Symptom Presentation: Research suggests that lupus might present differently in men, often with more severe symptoms. Men with lupus are more likely to experience complications like kidney disease, serositis (inflammation of tissues lining the heart, lungs, or abdomen), and neuropsychiatric manifestations. These severe symptoms can sometimes overshadow the underlying cause, leading to misdiagnosis.
  • Delayed Diagnosis: A study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research found that men experience a longer time from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis compared to women. This delay can worsen the disease progression and complicate treatment options.
Seeking Medical Help:

If you’re a man experiencing persistent symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, skin rash, or other unexplained health issues, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional. Be open about your concerns, provide a detailed medical history, and request appropriate testing to evaluate the possibility of lupus.

Spreading Awareness and Support:

Lupus is not gender-specific, and men can be affected by this chronic autoimmune disease. By recognizing and understanding the symptoms of lupus in men, we can ensure early detection, appropriate treatment, and improved quality of life. Share information about lupus symptoms, resources, and support networks through social media, community organizations, and healthcare providers. By educating others, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for men living with lupus. Let’s challenge stereotypes, spread awareness, and provide support to men living with lupus. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by this complex disease. Remember, if you or someone you know is experiencing lupus symptoms, consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and management. 

Lupus Support GroupsLupus LA’s global Virtual Support Groups are here to help you learn more about lupus and how to cope with managing this illness. Being truly supported is a powerful feeling that many people with lupus long to have, and joining a support group can help you enormously in managing this unpredictable chronic illness. Our monthly support group sessions are free and open to the public. Learn more at lupusla.org/supportgroups.

1:1 Patient Support: Did you know that Lupus LA offers 1-on-1 support to lupus patients? Navigating healthcare and social service bureaucracies are not easy tasks – and we’re here to help. Whether you’re a newly diagnosed patient or need assistance navigating resources, our team can help you:

✔️ Find the right doctor (and specialists)
✔️ Get the most from your medical team
✔️ Prepare for doctor visits and navigate resources
✔️ Understand patient rights and responsibilities
✔️ And More…

If you or someone you care about has lupus – you are not alone. Reach out to our virtual care coordinator at info@lupusla.org.

The contents of the Lupus LA website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on the Lupus LA website (“content”) are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a medical professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the LupusLA.org.