Knowing the Lupus symptoms
In the last article we understood that Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), or Lupus as it is commonly known, is a complex autoimmune disease. As Lupus is a multi-organ disease it can present with a variety of symptoms. More confounding is the fact that each person can manifest very different symptoms thus making early detection and diagnosis of the disease very difficult.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that there could be a 100 ways in which it could show up, early symptoms sometimes being mild, vague and non-specific.
You could have one or more of the following symptoms which typically come and go.
1. Fatigue and exhaustion.
Feeling tired all the time even after getting adequate rest and sleep. The fatigue comes and goes, it's appearance sometimes signalling the onset of a "flare".
This may be an unexplained low grade fever ranging between 99.5 to a 101 degree Fahrenheit or higher. The fever can come and go like the other symptoms.
3. Joint inflammation and sore muscles.
These usually affect the neck, thighs, shoulders, and upper arms. The joint inflammation can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling of joints, especially in the morning.
4. Chest pain on breathing deeply.
Usually this is caused by inflammation of the lining (pleura) of the lungs.
5. Shortness of breath.
Long term lupus can shrink lung size causing a shortness of breath. This is called the shrinking lung syndrome.
6. Thinning hair or hair loss
Hair loss may be one of the earliest signs of lupus. There could be patchy hair loss, hair loss in clumps and loss of hair from beard, eyebrows and eyelashes even. The hair can feel brittle and rough known as "lupus hair".
7. Sensitivity to the sun
This is an important symptom of lupus. It causes the appearance of rashes, hives, sores on the skin, fever, fatigue or joint pain on exposure to light.
8. Ulcers in the mouth
They usually occur on the roof of the mouth, in the gums, inside the cheeks, and on the lips. The ulcers may be painless. You could also have a dry mouth.
9. Dry eyes, infection of eyes, swelling around eyes.
11. Weight gain caused by kidney or thyroid problems.
12. Swollen ankles and high blood pressure.
Usually caused by inflammation of the kidneys.
13. The urine may be darker in colour or contain blood.
You may be getting up more frequently at night to urinate. You could also have back ache or a pain in your side.
Some people with lupus have memory problems and complain of feeling confused as well.
15. Mental problems.
Seizures and psychosis with delusions and hallucinations.
16. Increased propensity to blood clotting.
Repeated miscarriages, blood clots in the legs or lungs, stroke and heart attacks may occur because of an increased propensity to blood clotting.
17. Rashes which may occur on any part of your body.
They appear on any part of the body that is exposed to the sun, such as your face, arms, and hands. Discoid rash is typical in "discoid lupus". These disc-shaped, red and raised patches do not go away. They develop on the face, scalp, and neck and help in diagnosis. They often leave scars.
18. Red, butterfly-shaped rash across the bridge of nose and both cheeks.
Another common and typical sign of lupus is a red, butterfly-shaped rash across the bridge of nose and both cheeks. Almost 50% of people with lupus will exhibit this rash. The rash may come up on exposure to sunlight or before a "flare".
19. Gastrointestinal symptoms.
Common ones such as hyper acidity and acid reflux may occur.
20. Thyroid inflammation.
This can result in hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism with its attendant symptoms.
Other symptoms may include enlarged lymph nodes, osteoporosis, dizziness, anxiety and depression. Sorting out which symptoms are because of the disease itself or secondary to it is difficult. For instance, anxiety may be caused because of the stress of having to cope with other symptoms. As you can see the list of symptoms of lupus is confusing and endless. They are also often non-specific such as weight gain, fever, high blood pressure pointing towards other diseases thus deviating away from the correct diagnosis.