According to the Lupus Foundation of America, an estimated 1.5 million people have some form of lupus. Although this autoimmune disease can affect all ages, races, and both genders, the majority of lupus patients – 90 percent to be exact – tend to be women. Being diagnosed with lupus doesn’t mean that you can’t lead a healthy, normal, and productive life. Just take a look at Toni Braxton, Seal, Tim Raines and even the late King of Pop Michael Jackson, for instance. Like any disease, the key to lupus is being able to control and manage it, but first, you have to be able to recognize its symptoms. Read on to find out what they are.
1. Joint pain
Experiencing two or more swollen, red, warm, and/or tender-to-the-touch joints for at least six weeks is usually one of the first signs of lupus.
2. Sudden, unexplained hair loss
Perhaps one of the most common symptoms of lupus is hair loss. Some people lose their hair in clumps, but more often than not, the hair loss tends to be slow and gradual. You might notice the hair on the other parts of your body, such as the eyebrows and eyelashes, starting to thin as well.
Mild to extreme fatigue is another common characteristic of lupus, which makes it difficult for patients to exercise and perform daily activities. If you’re feeling even more tired than usual, this could be a strong indicator that a flare is about to occur. It’s also not uncommon for people with lupus to experience unexplained fevers, which tend to be somewhere between 98.5 and 101 degrees.
4. Kidney problems
Some lupus patients develop a kidney inflammation called nephritis, which makes it difficult for your kidneys to flush out toxins and waste from your blood. If you experience swelling in your fingers, lower legs, ankles and feet, high blood pressure, blood and/or a foamy appearance in your urine, dark urine, and/or weight gain, then this could be a sign that there’s a serious problem going on with your kidneys. See your doctor right away.
5. Chest pain
Lupus can cause inflammation in your lungs, heart or in the membrane surrounding the heart, which can cause you to experience chest pain, especially when taking deep breaths.
6. Butterfly rash
If you have a butterfly-shaped rash across your cheeks and the bridge of your nose, you’re not alone. Approximately 30 percent of lupus patients experience this type of rash, however; this could be a sign of rosacea and other skin conditions, so this symptom alone is not enough to make a diagnosis, but it’s something to be mindful of.
7. Light sensitivity
A large portion of lupus patients tend to be sensitive to sunlight, which can trigger body sores, achy joints and extreme fatigue, but similar to the butterfly rash, this symptom can be tricky since many people are sensitive to the sunlight.
8. Other symptoms
Other symptoms of lupus include anemia, seizures, dizziness, thyroid problems, gastrointestinal problems, dry mouth and dry eyes, and depression.