HealthNotes: Blog Edition

What is Lupus?

May 21, 2019

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, 5 million people around the world are affected by Lupus. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease with no cure. It can affect almost any organ in the body and is more common among women of childbearing age (ages 15 to 44). Lupus symptoms can differ from person to person. Common symptoms include:

  • Muscle and joint pain. This affects most people with lupus. Common areas for muscle pain and swelling include the neck, thighs, shoulders, and upper arms.
  • Fever. A fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit affects many people with lupus, which is often caused by inflammation or infection.
  • Rashes. Rashes can appear anywhere on the body that is exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms, and hands. One common sign of lupus is a red, butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks.
  • Chest pain. Lupus can trigger inflammation in the lining of the lungs, causing chest pain when breathing deeply.
  • Hair loss. Patchy or bald spots are common.
  • Sun or light sensitivity. Most people with lupus are sensitive to light. Exposure to light can cause rashes, fever, fatigue, or joint pain.
  • Kidney problems. Half of the people with lupus have kidney problems, called lupus nephritis. Symptoms include weight gain, swollen ankles, high blood pressure, and decreased kidney function.
  • Mouth sores. These sores usually appear on the roof of the mouth, but can also appear on the gums, inside the cheeks, and on the lips.
  • Prolonged or extreme fatigue. You may feel tired or fatigued, even when you get enough sleep.
  • Anemia. Fatigue could be a sign of anemia, which is when your body does not have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
  • Memory problems. Some people with lupus report problems of forgetfulness or confusion.
  • Blood clotting. You may have a higher risk of blood clotting. This can cause blood clots in the legs or the lungs, stroke, heart attack, or repeated miscarriages.
  • Eye disease. You may get dry eyes, eye inflammation, and eyelid rashes.

Diagnosing and Treating Lupus

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms of lupus. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because it has many symptoms that are often mistaken for other conditions or diseases. If you have been diagnosed with lupus, your healthcare provider may refer you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases of the joints, muscles, bones, and certain internal organs.

Rheumatology Services at Frisbie Memorial Hospital

For more information about Frisbie’s rheumatology services, click here.

Resources

National Resource Center on Lupus

The Lupus Symptom Checklist

Could it be Lupus? Questionnaire (Interactive questionnaire)

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