Lupus is an autoimmune disease. It can occur when the body’s immune system begins to attack its own tissues and organs. Joints, kidneys, skin, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs can be affected by the inflammation caused by Lupus.
It is often difficult to diagnose as its symptoms tend to mimic those caused by other illnesses. One distinct sign of Lupus is a rash on the patient’s face which looks like the unfolding wings of a butterfly across the cheeks. But this sign does not occur in all cases of Lupus. There are some people who are born with a tendency to develop Lupus. It can be triggered by infections, some drugs, or even sunlight. There’s currently no cure for Lupus, but there are treatments to help control the symptoms.
The Symptoms of Lupus
Each case of Lupus is different. Its signs and symptoms may develop slowly or suddenly. It can be mild or severe, temporary or even permanent. Most people with Lupus tend to have mild disease with episodes called flares when the signs and symptoms get worse and then improve or disappear completely. The signs and symptoms caused by Lupus depend on the body systems it is affecting. Common lupus symptoms include fatigue, fever, joint pain, stiffness and swelling, butterfly-shaped facial rash, skin lesions that appear or get worse in sunlight, fingers and toes that turn blue when exposed to cold or during stress, shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, confusion, and memory loss.
If you develop an unexplained rash, fatigue, ongoing fever, or persistent aching, check with your doctor. Know that there is no one test that can diagnose Lupus. It is a combination of blood and urine tests, signs and symptoms, and physical examinations that lead to a diagnosis. The signs and symptoms of Lupus differ with each affected individual and can even change over time or overlap with signs and symptoms of other disorders.
A person may have to undergo a complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, kidney and liver assessment, urinalysis, and antinuclear antibody tests. A chest X-ray, an echocardiogram, and a skin or kidney biopsy may also be needed. These test results will be examined in detail before a diagnosis is given.