Lupus, an autoimmune disease known for its capricious and often elusive symptoms, presents a diagnostic challenge even for seasoned medical professionals. While classic signs like joint pain, rashes, and fatigue garner most of the attention, a host of subtler, easily-overlooked symptoms can provide critical clues to an accurate and timely diagnosis. Fortunately, you can learn everything you need to know about lupus with a search online right now, which could help you spot early symptoms.
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. 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
6. Weight Loss
Unlike intentional weight loss achieved through diet and exercise, unexplained weight loss in lupus can signal an escalation of systemic inflammation or the adverse effects of certain medications.
Furthermore, significant weight loss can exacerbate fatigue, reduce immune function, and contribute to muscle weakness, making it even more challenging for patients to cope with the multifaceted symptoms of the disease. Consequently, recognizing weight loss as a possible red flag can aid in early intervention strategies.
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.
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.
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. These butterfly shaped rashes are common in about half of all patients with lupus.
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.
Consult With Your Doctor
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. Treatments for lupus can help, and online research can help you recognize more symptoms, but the condition can be deadly if you do not seek medical help.
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.