You’ve likely heard of the autoimmune condition pop star Selena Gomez has been fighting since her 2014 diagnosis, but you might be wondering what it actually entails – and whether you’re at risk. That’s why we’ll be unpacking some of the tell-tale signs you’re dealing with lupus – here’s what you need to look out for.
Lupus is an autoimmune condition which results in inflammation in the body, and it can affect anything from your joints to your gut. For some, the symptoms may be debilitating, while others may have a milder experience. Many people often underestimate their symptoms due to the fact that they’re not usually continuous, instead showing up as flare-ups, leaving many to overlook the possibility of lupus – including medical professionals. In fact, research found that over 60% of lupus patients were initially misdiagnosed, with an average wait-time of 6 years to get a proper diagnosis. Here are 6 common signs you’re dealing with this autoimmune condition.
The majority of people with lupus struggle with fatigue – a whopping 90% – and this can range from mild fatigue to an incapacitating level of exhaustion. Many find themselves napping during the day or oversleeping, so if you’ve been spending a bit more time in bed lately, it’s worth taking a look into the causes. Unless you’re also dealing with some of the other symptoms on this list, it’s not necessarily lupus – fatigue can be caused by anything from anaemia to anxiety.
The trademark symptom of lupus is known as the butterfly rash – this skin affliction spreads over the cheeks and the nose, and it’s shaped like a butterfly’s wings, hence the name. Nearly half of all lupus patients experience this rash, with some finding sun exposure or stress brings it out, while others experience it in the period before a flare-up. But it’s not just the butterfly rash you have to look out for, lupus can cause a number of other skin issues, from discolouration to lesions.
Nephritis occurs when the kidneys become inflamed, preventing them from doing their job of filtering out waste products and toxins in our blood. The signs of nephritis include swollen legs and feet, increased urination, dark-coloured or bloody urine and high blood pressure. The issue here is that many are unaware they’ve even got nephritis due to their mild symptoms, but if it’s not treated in time, it can result in the deadly end-stage renal disease. At this point, you’ll need a kidney transplant or dialysis to survive, making it one of the more dangerous effects of lupus.
From your skin to your eyes, dryness is a common symptom that comes with lupus. Dry mouth is a commonly reported symptom, along with dry eyes, this is often a result of Sjogren’s disease, an autoimmune disorder which is a comorbidity linked with lupus. It causes dysfunction in the saliva and tear glands, essentially preventing that much-needed moisture from reaching our skin and eyes.
Aching, stiff joints
If your joints are swollen, aching or stiff – especially when you’ve first gotten up – this could be a sign of lupus. In fact, it’s a highly common sign of inflammation, and we know that lupus is an inflammatory condition, so it’s no surprise that its reach extends to the joints – much like arthritis. If you’ve noticed painful joints in conjunction with a number of other symptoms on this list, lupus could be a possibility.
Many people with lupus experience hair loss – in fact, it’s one of the most common early signs you’re dealing with lupus. It happens as a result of an inflamed scalp, with some losing hair suddenly and others having a more gradual process. But it’s not just the hair on your head, some notice their beard, eyebrow, eyelash and body hair thinning out too, while others may notice their hair becomes become brittle and damaged.
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