Lupus may be a rather funny name for a disease, but the reality of it is that it is certainly no laughing matter. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack its own cells and tissues. For reasons that are not fully understood, women are about 90 percent more likely to develop lupus than men. There is also a hereditary component to it that increases risk by between 5 and 15 percent if someone has a relative or relatives that have lupus. Although there is no cure for lupus, it can be managed with medication, and many people with lupus are able to lead normal lives. Here are some signs and symptoms that may be an indication of lupus.
1. Joint Problems
Much of the time, the first symptom that shows up in lupus patients is a pain in the joints. Swelling, inflammation, and weakness may also be present. There are, of course, many potential causes for joint pain, so it is used in concert with other symptoms before a diagnosis of lupus is considered.
2. Chest Pain
When lupus prompts the body to attack itself, numerous organs can show signs of inflammation. This may result in pain, particularly in the chest area with inflammation of the heart and lungs. The development of pneumonia is also a potential sign that lupus is having an effect on the respiratory system.
Like any other organ in the body, the kidneys are very susceptible to the attacks that result from lupus. When the kidneys become irritated and inflamed, a number of symptoms may be present, including swelling in the feet and legs, frequent urination, and blood in the urine. The kidneys can be permanently damaged if the condition is left untreated.
4. Skin Rash
A particular type of skin rash called a butterfly rash can appear on lupus patients. It often shows up on the face, around the cheeks and nose, and is roughly in the shape of a butterfly. The rash does not usually involve any itching, but it may be worsened by exposure to the sun.
5. Light Sensitivity
It’s quite common for lupus to cause people to become photosensitive, which means that are more subject to damage from exposure to sunlight, which may cause rashes.
6. Raynaud’s Phenomenon
This symptom is somewhat unusual and surely one that would not go unnoticed. With Raynaud’s phenomenon, the fingers often turn blue because the blood vessels in the fingers become narrower. This causes a disruption in blood flow to the smaller vessels nearer to the surface of the skin, which makes the fingers appear blue, almost like a bad case of frostbite.
For the majority of lupus patients, sores or lesions may develop in the mouth or even in the nasal cavity. Oral lesions that develop and are a direct result of lupus usually appear red in color and are surrounded by a white “halo” and lines that radiate from the area.
Fever is another one of the early symptoms that may show up. The confusion that lupus causes for the immune system can result in infections, with respiratory and urinary tract infections being especially common. Sporadic fevers that come and go are experienced by about 80 percent of people with lupus.
9. Hair Loss
Lupus causes inflammation throughout the body, including the skin. This can lead to hair loss that includes hair on the scalp as well as the eyelashes, eyebrows, body hair and facial hair for men. Hair loss is usually reversed when lupus is treated, although some lesions on the scalp cause scars which then cause permanent hair loss in those areas.