Image is from Lupus Foundation of America
Millions of people suffer with the autoimmune disease known as Lupus. This chronic inflammatory disease affects a person’s immune system. Rather than fighting to protect your body from viruses and bacteria, the immune system actually attacks various organs and tissues. Since, Lupus can affect different parts of the body, its symptoms vary greatly from person to person. The intensity of these symptoms also varies greatly, but most people experience flares, which will worsen and improve randomly.
Below is a look at some of the main symptoms of Lupus.
- Anemia – Characterized by lower than normal levels of red blood cells in the body’s blood.
- Chest Pain – Chest pain that occurs when taking a deep breathe. This can be caused by an inflammation of the pleura membrane that surrounds the lungs, also referred to as Pleurisy.
- Dry or Swollen Eyes – Lupus can cause dry eyes or even swelling and pain in the area surrounding the eyes.
- Fatigue – Lupus oftentimes causes extreme fatigue that is typically more severe during and immediately after a flare.
- Fever – Many patients experience unexplainable fevers.
- Hair Loss – Depending on which organs and tissues are affected, Lupus may cause hair loss.
- Headaches – Many Lupus patient complain of severe headaches, which may be accompanied by confusion or even memory loss.
- Joint Pain – Lupus can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness of joints in the areas affected by the disease,
- Photosensitivity – Some Lupus patients also experience a sensitivity to the sun and the light. In these cases, it is best to avoid direct sunlight when possible.
- Rash – Many Lupus patients, but not all, experience a distinguishable rash on their face. This rash typically takes on a butterfly shape and spreads from the bridge of the nose outwards over both cheeks.
- Raynaud’s Phenomenon – This phenomenon causes a person’s fingers and/or toes to turn a whitish or bluish color when subjected to intense stress or extreme colds.
- Shortness of Breath – In addition to chest pain, Lupus patients may experience periods of shortness of breath.
- Skin Lesions – These types of lesions are most common among those whose Lupus affects their skin. Overexposure to direct sunlight should be avoided because this can worsen the lesions.
- Swelling – Lupus patients commonly show signs of swelling in their feet and legs.
- Unusual Blood Clotting – When Lupus affect the blood cells, a person may experience unusual blood clotting.
- Ulcers – Some people with Lupus also experience frequent ulcers in the nose and/or mouth.
Lupus is sometime referred to as “The Great Imitator” because its symptoms are very similar to several other medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems and fibromyalgia. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss these concerns.