Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is a chronic autoimmune disease. In individuals with lupus, their immune system struggles to differentiate between harmful invaders like viruses and their own healthy body tissue, leading to a range of symptoms that can be difficult to manage.
If left untreated, lupus can often lead to serious complications. To manage the disease, some individuals may need anti-inflammatory medications and chemotherapy agents as part of their treatment plan.
Lupus symptoms can vary greatly, with the condition impacting each individual in a unique way.
Frequent Episodes of Fever
Individuals with lupus may experience unexplained low-grade fevers, sometimes occurring quite frequently. These fevers typically do not exceed 101 degrees Fahrenheit and can be accompanied by fatigue and other symptoms. As a public health journalist, it’s essential to monitor these signs and seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment.
While a fever often results from a mild infection or temporary condition, leading people to manage the symptom with over-the-counter medications, it’s important not to ignore recurring low-grade fever spells. If this happens, it’s crucial to seek medical attention, as it could be an indication of an underlying issue such as lupus.
One of the most common symptoms of lupus is a butterfly-shaped skin rash that appears on the nose and cheeks. These rashes may also develop on the arms, legs, and other areas of the body, making them an essential symptom to watch for when identifying this autoimmune disease.
Typically, lupus-related skin lesions develop after sun exposure, as the condition heightens an individual’s sensitivity to sunlight.
Joint Pain and Swelling
Lupus often causes inflammation in the joints, leading to stiffness and pain. Many individuals experience the most discomfort during the morning hours. As with other lupus symptoms, joint swelling and pain can occur in episodes.
It’s not uncommon for doctors to mistakenly diagnose lupus-related joint issues as isolated arthritis cases, which can complicate treatment and management of the condition.
Mouth or Nose Sores
Lupus can also lead to the development of ulcers in the nose or mouth, including on the roof, sides, or even the tongue. Typically, these ulcers are painless outbreaks that gradually dry up and heal over time.
For individuals struggling with lupus-related sores that don’t heal on their own, over-the-counter medications may be necessary to aid in the healing process.
Hair loss is a common symptom experienced by individuals with lupus. This is typically caused by inflammation of the scalp, which leads to shedding and thinning of hair not only on the head but also in other areas such as eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, and arms. Keep an eye out for unusual hair loss as it could be an indication of lupus.
Hair loss in lupus patients can manifest as shedding in clumps or a gradual thinning of the hair. Prompt treatment of lupus typically results in hair regrowth over time. However, if lesions develop on the scalp, hair may not grow back in those scarred areas.
Chest Pain and Breathing Difficulties
In severe cases of lupus, patients may experience pulmonary inflammation, which affects the lining of the lungs or the lungs themselves. This symptom can also impact the diaphragm, leading to chest pain and shortness of breath, particularly during deep breaths. As a public health journalist, it is crucial to inform readers about these potential warning signs, so they can seek medical advice if needed.
Individuals living with lupus are at an increased risk of developing kidney inflammation, which can have severe consequences. Inflamed kidneys struggle to effectively purify the blood and eliminate harmful toxins, posing a significant threat to overall health.
Lupus nephritis, a condition associated with lupus, can cause noticeable symptoms like swelling in the legs and feet, discolored or bloody urine, increased nighttime urination, and elevated blood pressure. Keep an eye out for these warning signs and consult a healthcare professional if you’re concerned.
Unfortunately, early signs of lupus are often overlooked, putting individuals at a high risk of developing end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
In certain instances, lupus can impair the functioning of the digestive system, resulting in acid indigestion and mild heartburn. Individuals with severe lupus may also suffer from nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Some individuals may find relief through over-the-counter medications. However, if someone experiences unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper assessment and guidance.
Dry Mouth and Eyes
Lupus can lead to a dry and gritty sensation in the mouth, even for individuals who are well-hydrated. This is sometimes attributed to Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition in which the glands fail to produce sufficient tears and saliva. Additionally, women may experience vaginal dryness. To help relieve these discomforts, doctors may recommend certain medications.
Additional Lupus Signs
Lupus, a complex autoimmune disease, presents a wide range of symptoms that vary from person to person, making detection challenging. Some of the additional signs to watch for include muscle pain, osteoporosis, and extreme fatigue.
When exposed to cold temperatures, individuals with lupus may notice their fingers and toes turning blue or white. They may also experience headaches and abnormal blood clotting. Less common symptoms can include anemia and seizures. This wide range of symptoms makes it crucial to be vigilant and seek medical advice if you suspect lupus may be affecting your health.
Lupus symptoms can be unpredictable, as they may appear and disappear intermittently or vanish entirely after their initial onset.
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