There are five stages of lupus, beginning with stage one when the patient is displaying no symptoms, to stage five when they are experiencing excessive protein loss and swelling, Healthline states. Stages can vary between patients, and not everyone experiences them all, according to WebMD.
During stage one of lupus there are no symptoms, despite the fact the patient has the condition. During the early stages, patients experience mild symptoms that they can treat with corticosteroids. Stage three is the early phase of advanced lupus, and at this point the patient needs a lot of corticosteroids. At stage four, they are in the advanced phase and at risk of kidney disease, and at stage five the kidneys are losing high amounts of protein and the patient experiences a lot of swelling.
The symptoms each patient experiences varies between the stages. Some of the first signs include puffiness around the legs, eyes and ankles, as well as weight gain. Because of the protein in their urine, patients eventually notice it becomes frothy, and urinalysis reveals the protein's presence. Some patients also experience the frequent need to urinate and high blood pressure. Symptoms may appear suddenly, and they can lapse and reappear throughout the condition. Most people with lupus reach life expectancy and manage the condition well with treatment.