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What Are Some Signs & Symptoms of Lupus?

What Are Some Signs & Symptoms of Lupus?

Lupus is a complex autoimmune disease that requires long-term lupus treatment. Dubbed as the “disease of a thousand faces”, lupus can be difficult to diagnose as its signs and symptoms can vary widely among individuals and are often similar to symptoms of other unrelated diseases.

Here are some possible signs and symptoms of lupus to watch out for:

  1. Joint pain and swelling – Lupus commonly affects the joints, causing stiffness and inflammation that is typically worse in the morning. The joints that are most affected are commonly those in the hands and feet.
  2. Butterfly rash – A more indicative sign of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash that spreads across the nose and the cheeks. This facial rash often appears after sun exposure as lupus also causes light sensitivity. In some cases, non-itchy lesions can also develop on the body.
  3. Unexplained fever – Lupus can also cause on-and-off low-grade fever. Because the fever is low and comes and goes, many are quick to disregard it. However, this can be an early sign of inflammation and infection that require the attention of a rheumatologist.
  4. Hair loss – Lupus can cause body-wide skin inflammation that affects the face and the scalp. Such inflammation (plus skin lesions) damages hair follicles, causing hair to fall off. This includes hair on the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial and body hair. In many cases, hair growth occurs alongside lupus treatment.
  5. Nephritis – This is a condition in which the kidneys become inflamed, restricting their function of filtering toxins from the blood. Lupus nephritis is characterized by blood in the urine, frequent urination and high blood pressure, among others.
  6. Pleuritis – Lupus can cause the pleura (the lining of the lungs) to become inflamed. This causes a sharp, stabbing pain in the chest when taking a deep breath, laughing, sneezing or coughing. Pleuritis may also be accompanied by shortness of breath.
  7. Extreme fatigue – More than half of people diagnosed with lupus experience constant and extreme fatigue that causes them to discontinue work and other regular activities. Some cases of fatigue can be remedied with sufficient sleep, though others may require medication.
  8. Mouth ulcers – Oral and nasal ulcers typically develop during lupus flare-ups and can be found inside the cheeks or on the roof of the mouth. They are red and come with white halos, and may be accompanied by pain.
  9. Depression and anxiety – Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are common in people who have lupus. These may be as a result of medications or generally by hardships in terms of coping with the illness.

What Happens if Lupus Goes Untreated?

Lupus is a long-term illness that eventually leads to damage of the body’s tissues and organs if left untreated. This is why regular monitoring of symptoms and prompt lupus treatment are essential to help improve a patient’s quality of life. Unaddressed, lupus can have life-threatening complications that include:

  • Kidney, respiratory, digestive and cardiovascular problems – Lupus can cause inflammation in major organs such as the kidneys, lungs, stomach and heart, which lead to them not working properly. If these issues are not attended to quickly, they can lead to serious conditions like kidney failure, pneumonia, heart disease, ulcers and more.
  • Mental problems – Persistent feelings of loneliness and grief can lead to more serious forms of mental issues like depression and anxiety, which, in turn, can lead to insomnia, fatigue, mood disorders, hormonal imbalance and even thoughts of suicide.
  • Pregnancy complicationsPregnancy with lupus is possible with close monitoring under remission, but the risk for complications such as preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), preterm birth, stillbirth and miscarriage is higher.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that comes with many faces or symptoms. A consultation with a rheumatologist at the onset of any of the abovementioned symptoms is beneficial to diagnose lupus, rule other conditions and provide prompt treatment. Call us at 6472 4337 today.