Healthy Living

The Early Signs of Lupus

The Early Signs of Lupus

Key Takeaways

  • Almost all people who have lupus would experience various levels of fatigue.
  • One of the first symptoms of lupus would be the falling out or thinning of hair.
  • Because inflammation is a common symptom of lupus, you'll experience pain or swelling in your joints, especially during the morning.

Lupus is associated with a number of symptoms and conditions that can lead a person to seek help from a doctor. If you have recently been diagnosed with lupus, you may have experienced the following.

Signs of Lupus

Fatigue: Almost all people who have lupus would experience various levels of fatigue. Napping throughout the day may also have theme experience sleeplessness or insomnia during the night.

Fever (With No Explanation): Since lupus is an autoimmune disease, you might experience unexplained fever from inflammation or your immune system attacking your vital organs from a flare-up. If you do suffer from unexplained fever between 37 to 38 degrees Celsius, it's best to see a doctor, especially when it happens frequently.

Hair Loss: The first symptom of lupus would be falling out or thinning hair. This is due to inflammation on your scalp. Your hair might thin out slowly, or it comes out in clumps. It doesn't involve only hair on the head, but face and body hair as well. Your hair may also look a bit rugged and break quickly, known as "lupus hair."

Skin Rashes: One of the most common and visible symptoms of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash on your face, located over the bridge of your nose and cheeks. Almost half of all people who have lupus would have this type of skin rash. There may also be lesions around your body, which aren't itchy. Discolorations around your fingers and toes is less common, as well as hives (which is rare).

Pulmonary Problems: Inflammation of the lungs is another common symptom of lupus, where the cells would begin swelling up and extending to your lung's blood vessels. As a result, you end up feeling chest pain when breathing in.

Inflammation in Your Digestive System: One symptom people may get from lupus would be nephritis or kidney inflammation. Because of this, it would end with your kidney having difficulty in filtering blood and toxins. Nephritis has various symptoms such as:

  • Swelling in lower legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Darker urine or blood in it
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in your stomach

Swollen and Pained Joints: Because inflammation is a common symptom of lupus, you'll experience pain or swelling in your joints, especially during the morning. While it can start off as a mild pain, it can get worse. BUT, it comes and goes.

Gastrointestinal Issues: Those who have lupus might experience occasional heartburn or acid reflux. You'll need to change the way you eat your meals, as well as what you consume because of it.

Thyroid Problems: This is another common symptom for those who have lupus. Because of the malfunctioning of the thyroid, which controls metabolism, you may experience extreme weight fluctuations or affected vital organs. You may also have dry hair or skin, as well as moodiness.

Dry Mouth or Eyes: Those who have lupus may develop another autoimmune disease, which is the Sjogren's disease. It would cause a tear and cause the salivary glands not to function properly, resulting in dry mouth and eyes. Sometimes, women would also experience dryness of their vagina or the skin.

Here are other symptoms you may experience if you have lupus:

Anemia or seizures are rare and only happen if the lupus is very severe. 

How Common is Lupus?

Fortunately, with most mild to moderate cases of lupus, you won't experience all of the symptoms and especially not all at the same time. While some new symptoms may appear, others would disappear. There will also be times when you won't experience any symptoms unless lupus flares up.

The autoimmune disease might be more common than you thought. Over 1.5 million Americans and 5 million people worldwide have lupus. And what's unfortunate is that there are thousands of new cases each year, with 90% of those affected being women. So if you have lupus, do not forget that you are not alone in your battle. There are many other people with your condition, and a support group might help you cope.

What is Lupus?

Lupus is also known as systemic lupus erythematosus. This is an autoimmune disease that affects your whole immune system, which is supposed to function as a protector of your body from infection. But if you obtain lupus, the immune system would start attacking tissues in your body, and you will end up with damage to your tissues and sicknesses. There is no cure for this disease, but there are treatments that can relieve the symptoms.

Because your immune system isn't functioning as it should, you are more susceptible to illnesses. Africans, Native Americans, and Asians have more of a chance to develop lupus as compared to Caucasians. Those who are more prone to lupus are women, especially those who are of childbearing age (between 14 to 45 years old). Studies have shown that 1 in 250 people may obtain lupus, both men and women.

There is no exact reason why lupus happens. Studies have shown that it may be genetic or come from environmental and hormonal factors. What is known is that lupus is not contagious, nor is it sexually transmitted. However, it might be caused by drugs or overexposure to UV rays. Other types of illnesses, infections, or even surgery, may trigger the autoimmune disease.

Types of Lupus

There are three different types of lupus: 

Systemic Lupus: This affects your whole body, causing inflammation, may it be in your organs, joints, or skin. There are times when you have periods of remission or feel no pain, while there are flare-ups when lupus in your body becomes worse.

Cutaneous Lupus: This affects your skin, with your body developing skin rashes around your face, scalp, or neck. It becomes more noticeable when under fluorescent light or the sun.

Drug-induced Lupus: This happens if you have taken any prescription medicines that lead to lupus (the systemic type). It may result from hydralazine (treating high blood pressure), anticonvulsants (treating seizures), or procainamide (treating irregular heart rhythm). This type of lupus would appear after long-term use of the medicine, disappearing after you stop the medication for a given period of time.

How to Treat and Prevent Lupus

The only way you can prevent lupus from happening is to stay healthy and make sure that you get yourself regular checkups, especially if you suffer from any of these symptoms. Lupus is different for everyone, so the way you will be treated is based on what you need. For those with mild cases, you will be prescribed over-the-counter medicines, including those with anti-inflammatory properties. If your organs are affected by lupus and the condition becomes severe, then you will need stronger drugs that will help keep your immune system stable, protecting the vital organs in your body from an attack.

During recent years, a form of lupus therapy has been approved, which uses an antibody that helps block the cells in your body from attacking the tissue and organs. But there are still more studies to be done. For now, researchers are still looking for medicines and formulas that can treat and hopefully heal lupus in the future. 

Conclusion

Lupus is a serious condition that can affect anyone, but as long as you know the symptoms and get yourself checked, you'll be able to treat it immediately and prevent the condition from getting worse. So if you experience any of these signs and symptoms, have yourself checked immediately just to be safe. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.