Early Symptoms of Lupus, When To Talk With Your Doctor

by Editorial Board on January 4, 2011 · 1 comment

in Immune System

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own organs and tissues.  It is accompanied by painful symptoms that can make it difficult to maintain a normal level of activity.  For those suffering severe symptoms, lupus can be debilitating.  The majority of people suffering from lupus are women, most commonly between the ages of 15 and 44.

There are four types of lupus; systemic lupus erythematosus, discoid lupus erythematosus, drug-induced lupus erythematosus and neonatal lupus. Of these, systematic lupus erythematosus is the most common and serious form of lupus.

The early symptoms of lupus are slightly different in each person, and range from mild to severe cases.  Symptoms may also flare up and subside over time.  The most typical symptoms of lupus include unexplained fever, painful or swollen joints, painful and swollen joints, extreme fatigue, swollen glands, unusual hair loss, and anemia.  In some people, a characteristic “butterfly rash” may be visible on the nose and cheeks. Rashes may also occur on the arms, hands, chest, and ears.  Many people with lupus are sensitive to sunlight and may notice that rashes develop or worsen after sun exposure.

The nature of lupus makes it difficult to diagnose, and there is no single test that can confirm a diagnosis.  If you have experienced one or more of the common symptoms listed above, it is important to keep track of when and how often you have experienced each symptom.  It may help to keep a written record of specific symptoms and dates.  Your symptoms, medical history, and medical exams and tests will help your doctor determine whether you may be suffering from lupus.  Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist or dermatologist for further evaluation.

Early diagnosis of lupus is especially important for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.  Though most women with lupus can safely conceive and give birth, managing lupus during pregnancy requires careful planning with a physician.  Pregnancy places women at elevated risk for lupus flares and pulmonary hypertension, which can be potentially fatal.  The good news is that babies of mothers with lupus have no greater risk of developing lupus, and only 3% of babies born to mothers with lupus will have neonatal lupus.  By working with your physician to actively manage lupus, women can increase their chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

If you believe that you may be suffering from symptoms of lupus, it’s important to discuss it with your physician.  Early diagnosis is the key to effectively managing and treating lupus.

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james January 10, 2011 at 11:37 pm


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