Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and have a wide variety of symptoms. Lupus affects woman differently. Some women have only a few mild symptoms and others have many more severe symptoms.
Lupus Symptoms usually start in early adulthood, anywhere from the teenage into the thirties. Woman with lupus generally experience flare-ups of symptoms followed by periods of remission. That’s why early symptoms are easy to dismiss.
There are 4 types of lupus.
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus is the most common form of lupus, it’s what most women mean when they refer to lupus. Systemic lupus can be mild. Here are brief description of some of the serious complications involving major organ systems.
Inflammation of the kidneys, its called lupus nephritis, can affect the body’s ability to filter waste from the blood. It can be so damaging that dialysis or kidney transplant may be needed.
Inflammation in the brain’s blood vessels can cause high fevers, seizures, and behavioral changes.
Inflammation of the nervous system and brain can cause memory problems, confusion, headaches, and strokes.
Neonatal lupus is a rare condition that affects infants of women who have lupus and is caused by antibodies from the mother acting upon the infant in the womb. At birth, the infant may have a skin rash, liver problems, or low blood cell counts but these symptoms disappear completely after several months with no lasting effects. Some infants with neonatal lupus can also have a serious heart defect. With proper testing, physicians can now identify most at-risk mothers, and the infant can be treated at or before birth.
Drug-induced lupus erythematosus
Drug-induced lupus is a lupus-like disease caused by certain prescription drugs. The symptoms of drug-induced lupus are similar to those of systemic lupus, but it rarely affects major organs.
The drugs most commonly connected with drug-induced lupus include:
Hydralazine, treatment for high blood pressure or hypertension
Isoniazid, treatment for tuberculosis
Procainamide, treatment for irregular heart rhythms
Drug-induced lupus is more common in men because they take these drugs more often; however, not everyone who takes these drugs will develop drug-induced lupus. Lupus-like symptoms usually disappear within six months after these medications are stopped.
Cutaneous lupus erythematosus
This type of lupus is limited to the skin. Although cutaneous lupus can cause many types of lesions and rashes, the most common—called discoid rash is raised, red and scaly, but not itchy. Areas of rash appear like circles.
Another example of cutaneous lupus is a rash across the bridge of the nose and over the cheeks, known as the butterfly rash. Other rashes may appear on the neck, face, or scalp, or in the nose, mouth, or vagina. Hair loss and changes in the pigment, or color, of the skin are also symptoms of cutaneous lupus.
Early signs are similar to those of other conditions, having them doesn’t necessarily mean you have lupus.
Early symptoms of lupus can include:
One of the early symptoms of lupus is a low-grade fever for no apparent reason. Because it may hover somewhere between 98.5˚F and 101˚F, you might not think to see a doctor. People with lupus may experience this type of fever off and on.
A low-grade fever could be a symptom of infection, inflammation, or imminent flare-up. If you have recurrent, low-grade fevers, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Lot of people with lupus experience some level of fatigue. An afternoon nap does the trick for some people, but sleeping too much during the day can lead to insomnia at night. If you can remain active and stick to a daily routine, you may be able to keep your energy levels up.
Speak to your specialist doctor if you’re living with debilitating fatigue.
Thinning hair is often one first symptoms of lupus. Hair loss is the result of inflammation of the scalp and skin. Many woman with lupus lose hair by the clump. More often, hair thins out slowly. Lupus can cause hair to feel brittle, break easily, and look a bit ragged, earning it the name lupus hair.
Skin rash or lesions
One of the most visible symptoms of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash that appears over the bridge of the nose and on both cheeks. About half percent of women with lupus have this rash. It occur suddenly or appear after exposure to sunlight. Sometimes the rash appears just before a flare-up.
Many women with lupus are sensitive to the sun, or even to artificial lighting. Some experience discoloration in the fingers and toes.
Painful, swollen joints
Inflammation can cause stiffness, pain, and visible swelling in your joints, particularly in the morning. It may be mild at first and gradually become more obvious. joint problems can come and go.
If over-the-counter pain medications don’t help, consult your doctor. There may be better treatment options. But your specialist doctor must determine if your joint problems are caused by lupus or another condition, such as arthritis.
Inflammation of the pulmonary system is another possible symptom of lupus. The lungs become inflamed, and the swelling can extend to lung blood vessels. Even the diaphragm may be affected. These conditions can all lead to chest pain when you try to breathe in. This condition is often referred to as pleuritic chest pain.
Over time, breathing issues from lupus can shrink lung size. Ongoing chest pain and shortness of breath characterize this condition. It’s sometimes called shrinking lung syndrome. The diaphragmatic muscles are so weak they appear to move up in CT scan images.
Woman with lupus can develop a kidney inflammation called nephritis. Inflammation makes it harder for the kidneys to filter toxins and waste from the blood. Nephritis usually begins within 5 years of the start of lupus.
swelling in the lower legs and feet
high blood pressure
having to urinate more frequently at night
pain in your side
blood in your urine
Early symptoms may go unnoticed. After diagnosis, monitoring of kidney function is recommended. Untreated lupus nephritis can lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
Woman with lupus experience occasional acid reflux, heartburn, or other gastrointestinal problems. Mild symptoms can be treated with OTC antacids. If you have frequent bouts of acid reflux or heartburn, try cutting down on the size of your meals, and avoid beverages containing caffeine. Don’t lie down right after a meal. If symptoms continue, consult your doctor to rule out other conditions.
Dry eyes and dry mouth
For Woman with lupus, they may experience dry mouth. Eyes may feel gritty and dry, too. That’s because some woman with lupus develop Sjogren’s disease, another autoimmune disorder.
Sjogren’s causes the glands responsible for tears and saliva to malfunction, and lymphocytes can accumulate in the glands. In some cases, women with lupus and Sjogren’s may also experience dryness of the skin and vagina.
It’s not uncommon for women with lupus to develop autoimmune thyroid disease. The thyroid control your body’s metabolism. A poorly functioning thyroid can affect vital organs like your brain, heart, kidneys, and liver. It can also result in weight gain or weight loss. Other symptoms include moodiness and dry skin and hair.
When a thyroid is underactive, the condition is known as hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is caused by an overactive thyroid.
Sign of lupus are vary, but can include fatigue, joint pain, rash and fever. These can periodically flare up, get worse, and then improve.