Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes swelling (inflammation) and a wide variety of symptoms. It affects each individual uniquely. Some people have only a few mild symptoms and others have many, more severe symptoms.
Symptoms usually start in early adulthood, anywhere from the teen years to the 30s. As with some other autoimmune diseases, people with lupus generally experience flare-ups of symptoms followed by periods of remission. That’s why early signs are easy to dismiss. Because early symptoms are similar to those of so many other conditions, having them doesn’t necessarily mean you have this disease.
A whopping 90 % of people with lupus experience some level of fatigue. An afternoon nap does the trick for some people, but sleeping too much during the day can lead to insomnia at night.
One of the early signs of lupus is a low-grade fever for no apparent reason. Because it may hover somewhere between 98.5 and 101 degrees Fahrenheit, you won’t necessarily think to see a doctor. If you have recurrent, low-grade fevers, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Thinning hair is often one of the first signs of lupus. Hair loss is the result of inflammation of the skin and scalp. Some people with lupus lose hair by the clump, but more often, hair thins out slowly. Some people also have thinning of the beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other body hair.
Skin Rash or Lesions
One of the most visible signs of lupus is the butterfly-shaped rash that appears over the bridge of the nose and both cheeks. About 50 % of people with this disease have this rash. It can also cause non-itchy lesions in other areas of the body.
Inflammation of the pulmonary system is another possible marker of lupus. Not only can the lungs themselves become inflamed, but the swelling can also extend to lung blood vessels. Even the diaphragm may be affected. These can all lead to chest pain.
People with lupus can develop a kidney inflammation called nephritis. Inflammation makes it harder for the kidneys to filter toxins and waste from the blood. Symptoms include swelling in the lower legs and feet, and high blood pressure
Painful, Swollen Joints
Inflammation can cause pain, stiffness, and visible swelling in your joints, particularly in the morning. It may be mild at first, gradually becoming more obvious. Like other symptoms, joint problems can come and go.
Some people with lupus experience occasional heartburn, acid indigestion, or other gastrointestinal problems. Mild symptoms can be successfully treated with over-the-counter antacids. Avoid beverages containing caffeine.
It’s not uncommon for people with lupus to develop autoimmune thyroid disease. The thyroid helps control your body’s metabolism. A poorly functioning thyroid can affect vital organs like your brain, heart, kidneys, and liver. It can result in weight gain or weight loss. Other symptoms include dry skin and hair, as well as moodiness.
Dry Mouth, Dry Eyes
If you have lupus, you may have dry mouth. Your eyes may feel gritty and dry, too. That’s because some lupus patients develop Sjogren’s syndrome, another autoimmune disorder. Sjogren’s syndrome causes malfunctioning of the glands responsible for tears and saliva.
The list of potential symptoms of lupus is lengthy. Other symptoms include muscle pain, chest pain, osteoporosis, and depression. Rare symptoms include anemia, dizziness, and seizures. Fortunately, not everyone gets every symptom. While new symptoms can appear on the scene, old ones often disappear.
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