10 Easily-Overlooked Symptoms of Lupus
Lupus is a disease that does not discriminate. In fact, many people who have lupus do not realize that they have it until the disease has progressed. This is often because lupus looks different from one person to the next. Some people have very light symptoms, while others experience lupus more severely. This means that lupus is commonly mistaken for conditions like Lyme disease, blood disorders, arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid issues. Here are a few symptoms you might not have noticed:
If you have experienced a low-grade fever that just never seems to go away, it could indicate something more serious than you think. This can be confusing, because the fever lingers between 98 and 101 degrees, just enough to make you feel “off.” You might not even think it’s necessary to see a doctor for it. When you notice that your fever increases slightly, you could be experiencing a flare-up in the near future. As you become more in tune with your body, you may become more aware of when your fever is running too high.
Make sure to call your doctor if you experience chills or a fever that exceeds 101 degrees. It is a good idea to check your temperature twice each day.
2. Difficulty Breathing
Do you often become short of breath? If so, you might also notice pain or tightness in your chest. You probably notice deeper pain when you breathe in intensely. This commonly happens because lupus leads to inflamed lungs, and the pain can eventually reach your diaphragm.
Over time, lupus can lead to something called shrinking lung syndrome. This received its name because of the way the lung looks on a CAT scan due to its inability to garner strength. This condition can cause a sharp pain each time you breathe in and out, making your breathing shallower.
3. Memory Loss and Confusion
It is not uncommon for lupus to have mental and emotional affects as well. Those who live with lupus sometimes describe having a “lupus fog.” You may suddenly forget many names you used to know, or perhaps you struggle to remember a purchase you recently made. You could start missing doctor’s appointments or fail to perform some of the tasks that once came naturally to you.
Many people who experience these symptoms actually begin to see a therapist or psychiatrist for assistance with emotional and cognitive issues. Different memory aids can be helpful for recalling information.
4. Joint Stiffness and Swelling
Do you notice that your joints are stiff and inflamed, particularly in the morning? While the pain may come and go, it likely feels more intense as time goes on. Unfortunately, this condition is often confused with arthritis, and many people simply treat it with over-the-counter pain medications. If a warm shower doesn’t relieve the aches, it could be more serious than you think. Talk to a doctor if the feeling in your joints is influencing your ability to do “normal” activities.
5. Extreme Fatigue
One reason fatigue flies under the radar is that it is so commonly affiliated with other conditions. For those with lupus, fatigue can be a daily occurrence that leads to daytime napping and nighttime insomnia. While this autoimmune disease may persist, you will have a much easier time if you stick to a routine. If the fatigue and sleepiness becomes debilitating, treatments may be available.
For many people with lupus, this fatigue (as well as other symptoms) leads to depression and other emotional issues. It can be difficult to contend with the feelings of malaise while coping with physical issues.
Overall, this is the most extreme and common symptom of lupus. Unfortunately, this symptom is typically linked to fibromyalgia and left untreated. Ironically, people with lupus claim to feel more energized when they power through the fatigue and maintain an active lifestyle.
6. Weight Loss
Thyroid issues commonly lead to changes in weight. People also lose their appetite because of it, especially when taking different types of medications to ease the symptoms for the condition they think they have.
An overactive thyroid is easily treated with medication, but it can be difficult to find one that does not negatively influence other symptoms.
On the other hand, sometimes symptoms lead to weight gain. If you are feeling stiff and have bad joints, for example, you may struggle to get up each day to exercise.
7. Bad Reaction to the Sun
If you begin to notice that skin lesions begin to pop up when you spend time in the sun, you may very well be noticing the signs of lupus. You may notice sores, almost like cold sores, that pop up on your face as well. Some people with lupus even notice them inside their nose. Typically, these lesions are not itchy like most rashes or sores. In some cases, even artificial light can lead to problems.
8. Hair Loss
Bald patches and hair loss are common in those with lupus, and it is typically related to inflammation of the scalp. Hair loss differs from case to case, with some people experiencing severe loss of clumps. Others do not even notice their hair thinning out. The head isn’t the only place hair falls out, either. It is not uncommon to notice thinning of the lashes, brows, and beard as well.
If your hair doesn’t fall out, you might just notice the quality changing. It can become very brittle and start breaking off easily. In some cases, treatment can replenish hair growth.
9. Facial Rashes
That rash that appears on your face, nearly symmetrical expanding from the bridge of your nose out to your cheeks? That’s no sunburn. In some cases, these butterfly shaped rashes spread all over the body. The facial rash is common in about half of all patients with lupus, but the other half may still not even notice that it exists.
The rash is most common in those who have recently spent time in the sun, but it is also common just before a flare-up that results in depleting symptoms.
10. Symptoms That Come and Go
One of the most frightening things about lupus symptoms is that they come and go so readily. Fatigue may ease up on some days, but be more intense on others. It may seem completely random that your eyes are dry some days, but it is actually all related to the potential for flare ups in the future.
It is important to see a doctor and seek treatment for lupus if you believe that you may have it. This is especially the case if you have a family history of the condition and believe that you might have it as well. Treatments for lupus can help, but the condition can be deadly if you do not seek medical help. Seeking assistance early on is best and may combat more of the severe symptoms that tend to occur with flare ups. The quicker you act, the better.
Every day, people overlook symptoms of lupus. You do not want to overlook these common symptoms, especially when they occur in conjunction with others. You could be missing something that your body is desperately trying to tell you.