Lupus is an autoimmune disease. Simply put, the one responsible for it is the immune system itself. Instead of attacking invading microbes that can cause diseases, the immune system also strikes healthy tissues of the body. Due to this, damage to the tissues and all sorts of illnesses take place.
Also known as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, lupus causes inflammation and so many other signs and symptoms. It’s for the fact that different organs or parts of the body can be affected by it. Some people who have this autoimmune disease may only encounter a few signs and symptoms, while others may have numerous ones.
Experts say that about 1.5 million people in the US suffer from lupus. It is a lot more common in women than in men, and Native Americans, Asians and Africans are at higher risk. By the way, those who have lupus tend to encounter flare-ups which involve the outburst of signs and symptoms, followed by remissions.
To date, there is no single test available that can determine whether or not a person has lupus. Everything needs to be taken into account by a physician — from the symptoms, family history to the results of laboratory exams — for lupus to be diagnosed. Oftentimes, a referral to a rheumatologist is done.
Wondering if the weird signs and symptoms you are currently experiencing can be linked to lupus? Continue reading. The following are some indicators that you may be suffering from the said autoimmune disease:
According to experts, up to 90 percent of people with lupus experience fatigue. For many, taking naps during the day can help boost their energy levels, although this usually robs them of having a good night’s sleep.
Inflammation is one of the primary symptoms of lupus, and it’s something that can affect the skin. Hair loss can happen if the scalp becomes inflamed. But it’s not just hair on the head that may shed off, but also elsewhere on the body. Hair strands end up breaking easily, causing a ragged look that is referred to as “lupus hair”.
Up to 50 percent of people suffering from lupus exhibit the characteristic butterfly-shaped rash on the face. Usually, it appears after sun exposure of before a flare-up. Lupus may also cause lesions to appear on other parts of the body, although they usually do not feel itchy, experts say.
One of the earliest warning signs of lupus is low-grade fever that goes on and off. It can be an indicator of an ongoing infection or inflammation. For many people with lupus, low-grade fever usually precedes a flare-up.
Shortness of Breath
When lupus causes the lungs to become inflamed, a person may experience shortness of breath as well as pain in the chest when breathing in, something that is called “pleuritic chest pain”. As time passes, lupus can actually make the lungs shrink, which is sometimes known as “shrinking lung syndrome” or “vanishing lung syndrome”.
Lupus can make the joints painful and swollen. In the morning, it’s not unlikely for joint stiffness to be experienced. The good news is there are medications available that can help in managing these effects of lupus on the joints.
The kidneys may be attacked by lupus, too, causing nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys). As a result, the blood pressure may rise. Swelling of the legs and feet and frequent urination especially at night may happen, too.
Dry Eyes and Mouth
It’s possible for another autoimmune disease to strike when lupus is present, and it’s Sjögren’s syndrome. One of the telltale signs of this disease is dryness of the eyes and mouth as it affects the glands that secrete tears and saliva. Women who have Sjögren’s syndrome may also experience dryness of the vagina.