Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes swelling and a wide variety of symptoms. It affects each individual uniquely. Some people have only a few mild symptoms, and others have more severe symptoms.
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9 Early Signs of Lupus
Symptoms usually start in early adulthood, anywhere from the teen years to the 30s. People with lupus generally experience flare-ups of symptoms followed by periods of remission. That’s why early signs are easy to dismiss. These are top 9 signs and symptoms of lupus
1. Thyroid Problems
It is natural for people with lupus to develop autoimmune thyroid disease. The thyroid helps in controlling the body’s metabolism. A functioning thyroid can affect vital organs like your brain, heart, kidneys, and liver. That can result in weight gain or weight loss. Other symptoms include dry skin and hair, as well as moodiness. An underactive thyroid is known as hypothyroidism, and an overactive one is called hyperthyroidism.
Ninety percent of people with lupus experience some level of fatigue, according to the Johns Hopkins Lupus Center. An afternoon nap does the trick for some people, but sleeping too much during the day can lead to insomnia at night. It may be hard to do, but if you can remain active and stick to a daily routine, you may be able to keep your energy levels up.
If you are living with debilitating fatigue, speak to your doctor. Some causes of fatigue can be successfully treated.
3. Unexplained Fever
One of the early signs of lupus is a low-grade fever for no apparent reason. It may hover somewhere between 98.5 and 101 degrees Fahrenheit. You won’t necessarily think to see a doctor. People with lupus may experience this type of fever in an on-again, off-again fashion. Low-grade fever could be a sign of inflammation, infection, or imminent flare-up. If you have recurrent, low-grade fevers, you better see your doctor.
4. Hair Loss
Thinning of hair is often one of the first signs of lupus. Hair loss can be the result of inflammation of the skin and scalp. Some people with lupus lose hair by the clump, but more often, hair thins out slowly. Some people also have thin beards, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other body hair. Lupus can cause hair to feel brittle, break easily, and look a bit ragged, earning it the name “lupus hair.”
5. Kidney Inflammation
Lupus can develop kidney inflammation known as nephritis. Inflammation makes it harder for the kidneys to filter toxins and waste from the blood. Nephritis usually begins within five years of the start of lupus. Symptoms include high blood pressure and swelling in the lower legs and feet. You may notice blood in your urine, or have to go more frequently at night. Also, you may have a pain in your side, and your urine may be a bit darker than usual. Early signs may go unnoticed. Once diagnosed, monitoring of kidney function is recommended. Untreated lupus nephritis can lead to end-stage renal disease.
6. Painful, Swollen Joints
Inflammation can cause pain, visible swelling in your joints, stiffness, particularly in the morning. Like other symptoms of lupus, joint problems can come and go.
If over-the-counter pain medications don’t help, see your healthcare professional. There may be better treatment options, but your doctor must determine if your joint problems are caused by lupus or another condition, such as arthritis.
7. Gastrointestinal Problems
Some people with lupus experience heartburn, acid reflux, or gastrointestinal problems. Mild symptoms can be successfully treated with over-the-counter antacids. If you have frequent bouts of acid reflux or heartburn, try cutting down on the size of your meals. Avoid beverages containing caffeine. Don’t lie down right after a meal. If symptoms continue, see your doctor so other conditions can be ruled out.
8. Dry Mouth, Dry Eyes
If you have lupus, you may have a dry mouth. Your eyes may dry too. That’s because some lupus patients develop Sjogren’s syndrome, another autoimmune disorder. Sjogren’s syndrome causes malfunctioning of the glands responsible for tears and saliva.
9. Pulmonary Issues
Inflammation of the pulmonary system is another possible marker of lupus. Not only can the lungs themselves become inflamed, but the swelling can also extend to lung blood vessels. Even the diaphragm may be affected. These can also lead to severe chest damage.