A lupus diagnosis is often made after a doctor has ruled out other diseases with a physical exam, lab tests and a review of your symptoms. But because lupus has so many symptoms, doctors have difficulty finding the right ones to diagnose a patient. And even when a person has a specific symptom, it may not show up on all blood tests or be confirmed by a skin test or a kidney biopsy.
Joint Pain, Swelling and Stiffness
The most common sign of lupus is joint pain. It can occur in your wrists, knuckles or fingers and it’s especially common when you first wake up. It’s a lot like the pain you would get from rheumatoid arthritis, but the difference is that joint pain and swelling from lupus doesn’t come progressively worse over time.
A high fever, above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, is another common symptom of lupus. It can be caused by inflammation, infection, or other medical conditions, but it can also be triggered by the lupus itself. It can cause fatigue, headaches and a sore throat, and sometimes lead to other health problems, including kidney damage and heart disease.
Rashes are a common sign of lupus. They can be a butterfly-shaped red rash over the cheeks and nose or a scaly, itchy rash that covers the rest of your body. These rashes can be sore, or itchy and they can be made worse by sun exposure.
Lupus can trigger inflammation in the lining of your lungs, which causes chest pain when you breathe deeply. This can be particularly painful when you’re coughing, sneezing or talking.
In rare cases, people with lupus can develop mouth ulcers, Dr. Buyon notes, and they can be very painful and difficult to treat.
Because lupus is an autoimmune disease, it can affect your hair. It can change the color of your hair, and it may bleed and lose its thickness. It can also cause your hair to fall out, which can be frustrating and embarrassing.
It can also make you feel tired all the time, which can be very depressing. Other symptoms of lupus can include sensitivity to sunlight, arthritis, and kidney problems.
Treatment for lupus can help control your symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Your doctor will work with you to find a treatment plan that best suits your needs and preferences.
The treatment you choose depends on the type of lupus that you have. Some medicines can help control symptoms by suppressing the immune system, while others can relieve inflammation and reduce pain.
Acupuncture, for example, can ease muscle pain. It uses tiny needles that are inserted just under the skin.
Talking about your symptoms with your friends and family can also help you to share your feelings. It can be hard to explain what lupus is and how it affects your life, but it can be helpful to know that there are other people who understand the frustration and isolation you might feel.