Lupus is a disease that is commonly misdiagnosed because doctors often attribute symptoms to other conditions. This is due in part to the fact that lupus can attack so many different parts of the body. The skin, heart, kidneys, brain, blood, lungs, and joints may all be involved. So how do you know if you are suffering from lupus? Look for the following signs and symptoms:
· Joints that ache and swell
- Approximately 70% of patients who have been diagnosed with lupus state that this was the first symptom they
noticed. Often the stiffness is most severe in the morning. Joints will feel red and warm in many cases. When the arthritis stems from lupus, both sides of the body will be affected. Joints most commonly affected include the elbows, knees, ankles, wrists, and small joints of the hands.
· Fatigue-Most, if not all, who have lupus complain of fatigue. Those with mild lupus state that this interferes with their daily life and when fatigue increases, symptoms seem to flare up.
· Skin rash-Doctors look for a butterfly rash on the face when diagnosing lupus. The rash frequently appears on the cheeks and bridge of the nose. Additionally, many patients report a scaly, raised rash. This red or purple rash develops on the chest, arms, neck, face, ears, and scalp. Others complain of skin sores or flaky red spots. If these are present, the face, neck, back, arms, and hands will be affected.
· Light sensitivity-Ultraviolet light may increase skin rash incidents while also triggering lupus flare ups. Those with fair skin report this more frequently.
· Fever-This may be the first sign of the disease although the fever may be low-grade.
As other conditions are associated with many of these symptoms, it may take some time to reach the right diagnosis. To determine if you are suffering from lupus, your doctor will look at the symptoms you are experiencing. He will also run tests such as a positive antinuclear antibody (ANA) test. Four of eleven symptoms or positive test results must be present in order to receive this diagnosis. The process may take months or years to complete. For this reason, it is often difficult to know if you are suffering from lupus. You and your doctor will need to work together to eliminate other possible diagnoses.
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