Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. It can affect many parts of the body. Currently, there is no cure for lupus. But if left untreated, it can lead to severe complications and even death. There are several different types of lupus. But the one most commonly diagnosed is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
Early recognition and treatment of lupus are essential in preventing complications and reducing symptoms. Unfortunately, lupus can easily be misdiagnosed due to its wide variety of signs and symptoms. So, people need to be aware of the early signs of lupus to get an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
With that said, here are six common early signs of lupus:
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1. Joint Pain
Joint pain is a common symptom of lupus, especially in the hands, wrists, and knees. It may be accompanied by swelling and redness. This type of joint pain can be confused with arthritis or tendonitis because these conditions are also characterized by joint pain.
2. Butterfly Rash
A butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and bridge of the nose is another early sign of lupus. This rash usually appears when exposed to sunlight and is known as a butterfly rash or malar rash. The rash may come and go, but it’s a good indicator that someone has some degree of lupus activity going on in their body.
People with lupus often experience extreme fatigue that does not seem to improve after resting or sleeping. It’s important to distinguish this kind of fatigue from normal tiredness. Because it could mean something else altogether, such as anemia or depression, which can further complicate the diagnosis process if not treated properly.
4. Unexplained fever
About 65% of people who have lupus often have a fever that lasts for days. This is called a recurrent fever episode. Sometimes there are no other signs or symptoms of lupus besides the fever. Although, this recurrent fever could indicate that something else is going on internally with your immune system.
So it is important to see your doctor if you have a fever that lasts for more than two days. If you have other symptoms like coughing or a stuffy nose, that is okay. But if you just have a fever with no other symptoms, it is important to get checked out by a doctor.
5. Hair Loss
Another classic sign of lupus is hair loss. This can present itself as thinning patches or complete baldness in certain areas on the scalp (commonly referred to as alopecia). It’s important to note that hair loss due to lupus isn’t permanent but rather temporary. If treated correctly and timely enough, hair will grow back.
6. Increased sensitivity to sunlight
If you have lupus, you may also find that you are more sensitive to sunlight than before. This can be in the form of a rash, itching, or burning sensation when exposed to UV rays for even short periods.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, 70% of people with lupus experience a sensitive reaction to sunlight. Besides, this can trigger lupus flares like fever, fatigue, or joint pain. So it is important to take extra precautions such as wearing protective clothing and sunscreen when outside.
If you have any of the early signs and symptoms of lupus, be sure to talk with your doctor. Your doctor can help determine if these are truly related to lupus or another condition. Early detection and treatment are key for preventing further health complications. With the right care, lupus is a manageable condition that does not have to control your life.