Lupus: Symptoms To Watch For
"The Great Imitator"
Lupus is called "The Great Imitator" because of its varying symptoms. Because the symptoms are so varied, lupus is often mistaken for other medical conditions. Lupus symptoms appear and disappear unpredictably. The most common of all the complaints are fever, fatigue, and joint and muscle pain. You can see why lupus, "The Flu-like Syndrome," is mistakenly diagnosed as the flu.
Common symptoms of lupus
Read the following symptoms to better understand why lupus is so similar to other illnesses. The initial symptoms of lupus include:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Chest pains
- Hair loss
- Malaise (general feeling of overall fatigue)
- Mouth ulcers
- Myalgias (muscle aches and pains)
- Nose ulcers
- Painful and swollen joints
- Painful and swollen muscles
- Pale fingers and toes
- Red rashes
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Swelling in eyes, glands, and legs
These symptoms may appear on initial onset, or may not appear until years later. The degree of severity varies, just as the symptoms vary from person to person. Recurring bouts of symptoms are called "flare ups."
Systemic symptoms of lupus
Some people may only experience symptoms in one or two of the body's systems, like the joints or skin. Other people experience symptoms throughout their entire body. It's important to know the following systems can also be affected by lupus:
- Blood. Blood disorders like anemia, leukopenia (decreased white blood cells), and thrombocytopenia (decreased blood-clotting platelets) are not uncommon in lupus patients.
- Blood vessels can become easily inflamed with lupus symptoms.
- Central nervous system symptoms, other than those listed above, can include behavioral changes, memory loss, stroke, and vision problems.
- Eyes. The retina can be particularly sensitive if the lupus patient is taking antimalarial drugs. If they are taking these drugs, they should see their ophthalmologist regularly.
- Heart inflammation is not uncommon in lupus patients.
- Kidneys can become inflamed and cause swelling of the ankles. Generally, no other symptoms occur.
- Lungs inflammation, called pleuritis, can cause chest pain and make it difficult to breathe. This makes lupus patients particularly susceptible to pneumonia.
Symptoms of lupus in pregnant women
When a woman has lupus, pregnancy complications set in and they become a high risk pregnancy. These symptoms include:
- Higher rate for miscarriage even through the second trimester
- Higher rate for premature births
If a woman with lupus has kidney disease, her risk for preeclampsia (high blood pressure that is a result of buildup of excess watery fluid in the body) increases.
Severe lupus symptoms
If you experience these following symptoms, you need to call your medical professional.
- Abdominal pain, unusually painful
- Blood in the urine
- Chest pain
- Fever, unusually high
- Headache, unusually painful
- Joint pain, unusually painful
- Recurrent miscarriages
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the legs
- Visual problems
- Weakness in the arms, face, or legs
Living with lupus symptoms
Despite the obvious attention you must give lupus, you can still live a near-normal life. Yes, you have to following a lifestyle that doesn't bring on lupus flare ups, but you can still live a full life.