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Lupus: Symptoms

 

Two women stand side by side.  Both have lupus.  Donít, however, expect them possess the same symptoms.  This is probably the most frustrating aspect of the disease for both 

the person affected and for the health care practitioner treating her.

Not only does lupus manifest itself in many different forms, it can also develop slowly over several years or its onset may be sudden and jarring.  The symptoms may appear mild or severe and they might not even be permanent.  Even the signature symptoms, the rash that provides the name of the disorder is not always present on every person.

There is one common denominator that every person with lupus seems to have to endure.  The flare.  This is an acute episode in which the disorder noticeably worsens.  After that the symptoms recede and, for some people, actually disappear completely for a period.

Even though lupus takes many forms, there are some symptoms that can alert you to the development of the disorder.

Rash.  The signature symptoms of lupus, the rash medical experts originally thought it resembled a wolf bite.  Thatís how lupus got its name.  Today, many more people say it resembles a butterfly.  But even this symptoms isnít present on all individuals with lupus.  Only about one-third of the people affected by the autoimmune disorder actually have the rash.

Arthritis.  Those with lupus complain of joint pain Ė especially in the fingers, wrists and hands.  While the pain can be debilitating at times, it isnít always present.

Problems with the bodyís organs.  If left untreated, the antibodies unleashed by this disorder eventually attack your bodyís vital organs.  The kidneys are especially vulnerable. So are the heart, blood vessels and lungs as well as your brain.

Photosensitivity.  Those with lupus are usually extreme sensitive to sunlight, developing rashes when exposed to it. Sometimes, even indoor lighting can affect them as well.

Sores in the mouth.  These ulcer-like sores are painless and most commonly occur on the roof of the mouth. Theyíre not very noticeable unless you indulge in spicy foods.

Fatigue.  This is not to be confused your with common feeling of being tired. This extreme exhaustion is not relieved no matter how much rest you get. 

Fever.  This is an unexplained chronic fever.  Normally itís greater than 100 degrees and usually appears in the early stages of development.

Raynaudís phenomenon.  If you have lupus, then youíre familiar with this problem.  Itís the condition in which many of your extremities, including fingers, toes, nose and ears, turn numb and pale when theyíre exposed to the cold.

Depression.  If you have lupus, you may very well develop depression.  The health-care community is unsure if itís a true symptom of lupus or a disorder that occurs because of the problems in dealing with this health condition.

Hair loss.  Some people with lupus, experience patchy hair loss due to the affects of the disorder on the scalpís skin.

Swelling. This could occur in a number of areas, including your legs or around your eyes.  Some individuals also develop swollen glands as part of the disorder.

If your health care practitioner feels your symptoms warrant testing for lupus, there is a series of tests heíll have you undergo.  These tests will check for a variety of problems, including an examination to determine how well your kidneys and liver are functioning.

There is, however, one seminal test called the antinuclear antibody Ė ANA Ė test.  This determines the presence of antibodies. An elevated result on this Ė having an excess of antibodies in your system Ė can indeed be the one sign your doctor needs to confirm your case of lupus.  Of course, before he diagnoses this disorder with any degree of certainty, heíll rule out that your elevated antibody count is due to any other type of infection you system is experiencing at the moment.

 




Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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Greg Cryns
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