Lupus can involve the Nervous System

No discussion of lupus and the havoc it wrecks on the human body would be complete without discussing lupus and our nervous systems. Since lupus can affect all organs and systems, our nervous system are also ‘targets.’

Our nervous systems are complex, so, I’ll divide then into 3 component parts. There is the peripheral nervous system which governs our arms and legs and feet. It contains a network of nerves that work to connect our brain (Central Nervous SYstemO with the rest of our body, sending messages to the rest of our body as to how to act or react to stimuli.

The Autonomic Nervous System, (ANS)  or involuntary nervous system controls thins like our heart rate, respiratory rate, how much we sweat. It has any number of functions. Basically, our autonomic nervous system acts independently of us. Think of it, if we had to have a discsusion with our automatic system EACH time our heart was taxed and we had to convene a Congress of what to do about it,  the threat would have already passed and the reaction to this would have been an Intricate Lee. very ineffectively. So, the Autonomic Nervous System does the work for us on ‘auto’pilot’

Lastly there is the Central Nervous System. The Central Newvous System  (CNS). Ir is comprised of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. When the nervous system of people who have lupus is affected, people experience ugh a wide variety of symptoms which I’ll try to break down to systems. The effects that lupus has on the CNS are the most known, but not always the most devastating.

When lupus affects the Central Nervous System,  people may experience headaches, confusion, fatigue or depression. You might also see stroke, cognitive problems, vision difficulties and mood swings. Those are pretty vague symptoms and could be caused by a variety of conditions, so if you have these symptoms, you’ve likely had at least one physician question your mental status. CNS involvement can be a difficult diagnosis to make because often the symptoms are vague. But CNS lupus can present with CNS vasculitis, a potentially life-threatening medical emergency.

When lupus affects the Peripheral Nervous System, numbness and tingling or other different sensations may manifest in your arms and legs. There can also be ringing in the ears (even though tit was told to me, that “you’ll get used to it” and it was just a temporary nuisance. 15 years later, though, it progressed into a permanent, rip-roaring buzz-saw present 24/7, that nothing can be done about.

Last, but not least is involvement of the Autonomic Nervous System. What symptoms may be seen? Inflammatory  symptoms of organs that are heavily innervated automatically. For example, the heart rate, instead of being strong and regular, may be weak and irregular.. If that’s the case, you’d see confusion, because the brain relies on a regular flow of blood-carry oxygen, WHICH IT IS NOT GETTING. There might be numbness or burning for the same reasons.  Probably the example of ANS involvement of which we’re familiar, is in Raynaud’s phenomenon.

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6 thoughts on “Lupus can involve the Nervous System

  1. Annie, thanks so much for this informative post. Even as a nurse, I know little about the vast array of signs and symptoms that lupus can present. Reading about the possible extensive involvement of the nervous system will help me to be more understanding and supportive of those living with lupus and their friends and family. Lois

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