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What are the Symptoms of Lupus?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 29 August 2016
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Lupus is an autoimmune condition that can create varied symptoms and outcome. People with the condition may be more prone to infections, to kidney trouble, trouble with the skin, the joints, the lungs, heart and brain; the disease is called systemic lupus (though some people have a variant that mainly affects the skin) because it can affect virtually all of the body’s systems. Some people do extremely well with treatment when diagnosed, and others get complications of the disease quickly. Each individual is different, and lupus can change in expression as the disease progresses. It is best called a chronic disease, that in most forms, unless drug induced, is not curable, but may be managed.

Since expression of the condition can vary, symptoms of lupus may be minor to major. Early symptoms of lupus often mimic other diseases making diagnosis much more difficult. There are a few expressions of the condition that are almost unmistakably tied to this disease. These include the appearance of a butterfly shaped rash (called a malar rash) on the nose and cheeks, which may still be mistaken for rosacea. The main difference with lupus is that the rash has the butterfly pattern, with few, if any, signs of rash on the forehead.

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Other early symptoms of lupus can include joint pain, photosensitivity (sensitivity to the sun), susceptibility to viruses and infections, and conditions like pleurisy (inflammation of the lungs). Glands may be swollen with no apparent cause, or kidney pain or trouble may exist without a clear explanation. People may feel depressed, exhausted, and may find themselves feeling worse when there are sharp changes in the weather. Fingers get purple from the cold, and exhaustion may intensify in hot weather.

Some additional symptoms of lupus may be present like mouth sores, or people can become severely disoriented and have hallucinations or have seizures. These are less common, though they can occur. A woman may receive a diagnosis of lupus after having multiple miscarriages, or persistent anemia may suggest the condition. Another of the symptoms of lupus, which may occur in early days or later, is hair loss.

Due to the varying symptoms and their individual expression, it’s important, if you think you have lupus to tell your doctor. Mention all symptoms you have, since diagnosis is complicated by the number of ways that lupus may first emerge. Doctors must run multiple tests to appropriately diagnose the condition; it isn’t like certain diseases where a single test will prove you have the disease. Sometimes the overwhelming number of symptoms make diagnosis easy, but other times, doctors must really evaluate the few symptoms of lupus that exist, combine this with a number of blood and urine tests and possibly kidney or skin biopsies to really make a concrete diagnosis.

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bluedolphin
Post 3

I have lupus disease and I have many skin related symptoms. I can't bear sunlight and brake out in a rash when I'm exposed. I also experience burning and tingling sensations.

bear78
Post 2

@SarahGen-- As far as I know, the lupus blood test is not definite. You may have lupus and the test my come back negative. I think it has to do with how bad the lupus flare is and which systems are being affected the most.

If you have symptoms of lupus and your doctor is failing to recognize that, feel free to see a different one. Rashes, specifically, the butterfly rash on the face, in addition to arthritis type symptoms are common with lupus. I had the same lupus symptoms as you, in addition to kidney problems and was initially misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia.

I actually don't blame doctors about misdiagnoses because auto-immune diseases have many common symptoms. It can be very difficult to tell them apart. But if you feel that your symptoms match with lupus more than anything else and if other treatments are not working, keep insisting until your doctor listens to you.

SarahGen
Post 1

I have many symptoms of lupus disease but I haven't been diagnosed. I had a blood test done for it but since it came back negative, my doctor ruled out lupus as a possible cause. Meanwhile my symptoms are getting worse and treatments aren't working. I get a rash frequently, I have joint inflammation, extreme fatigue, headaches and sometimes confusion.

It it possible for the blood work to be wrong? Are there others here with lupus? How long did it take for you to get diagnosed?

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