Lupus can potentially create serious and lifelong problems. It can damage organs and lead to skin discoloration or permanent hair loss. These are not problems anyone wants to end up dealing with.
The best way to stop this from happening is to detect lupus early. Early treatment can be provided in these cases, which can help control the long-lasting problems.
Detecting lupus early starts with knowing the early signs of lupus. This article will look at early signs of lupus in women. Specifically, it will explore ten signs to watch out for.
1. Skin Conditions
Skin conditions are present in many types of lupus. In fact, one type of lupus, cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE), is exclusively tied to skin conditions.
The infamous butterfly rash is the most prominent and obvious skin condition indicating lupus. This rash extends from both sides of the nose across the face. This causes it to look like a butterfly, hence the name vaguely.
This rash is notable because it occurs in around 30% of people with lupus. However, it isn’t the only type of lupus rash. The presence of this or another rash with a lupus-like appearance indicates that lupus is present.
2. Fatigue That Won’t Go Away
Fatigue is a common condition with lupus. It is so common that it appears in around 90% of people with lupus. Fatigue with lupus generally results in a feeling of tiredness that seems not to go away, no matter how hard you try.
However, it is also important to note that fatigue is a symptom of many other conditions. It is an ongoing symptom of multiple sclerosis and is a symptom of temporary conditions like seasonal affectiveness disorder. So, it is important to work with a doctor to determine the specific cause of your fatigue. From there, you can determine if it is due to lupus.
3. General Pain and Joint Pain
One of the most common signs of lupus is pain. Lupus causes inflammation that puts pressure on the body in different ways. This results in pain, particularly joint pain.
However, it can be hard to differentiate pain from lupus from other pain. One sign of lupus is that the pain comes and goes. Lupus tends to flare up at certain times, and the pain is worse during these flare-ups.
A fever is an obvious sign that something is wrong. Most people get a fever when dealing with other illness symptoms. However, it is possible for a fever to strike without other symptoms.
This is obviously unusual and, as such, is a potential sign of lupus. The CDC suggests that many people with lupus regularly experience a fever of around 100˚F.
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5. Hair Loss
Lupus often leads to swelling in various parts of the body. If it takes place around the scalp, this swelling can stress the hair follicles and cause damage. If this happens for long periods of time, it can lead to hair loss.
This is an early sign of lupus. The hair loss will start relatively mild and may only thin slightly. However, it will get worse as it progresses.
Like hair loss with alopecia areata, hair loss with lupus can have psychological effects. Treating lupus and even getting further treatment for hair loss helps fight back against these effects.
6. Lung Issues
If the swelling caused by lupus occurs around the lungs, it can damage them. This causes difficulty breathing and chest pain. This is particularly noticeable when taking a deep breath, as a deep breath like this can cause sharp pain.
If left untreated, problems in the lungs can worsen. Lupus can decrease the size of the lungs, weakening them as a whole.
Related: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Increases Immunoglobulin Gamma-3 Chain C
7. Kidney Issues
If lupus causes swelling around the kidneys, it will lead to kidney issues. This is problematic because the kidneys are an important part of the body’s waste removal system. Without them, the toxins and waste that exist in the blood cannot be filtered out.
With these problems existing in the blood, the symptoms impact the whole body. This can lead to high blood pressure or pain on the side. However, the more noticeable symptoms are found in urine. Darker urine, blood in the urine, and frequent urination are all symptoms of kidney issues caused by lupus.
Lupus can even go on to cause kidney disease. This is more important than ever to be aware of as it is a risk factor relating to COVID-19.
8. Stomach Issues
Lupus often leads to a number of stomach issues. These range from mild heartburn to acid reflux. The issues can also take form in many other ways, to the point where many general stomach issues are potential signs of lupus.
Since these signs are so general, they work best in identifying lupus when other signs are present.
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9. Thyroid Issues
A healthy person’s thyroid has a big impact on their body. It controls metabolism, influences weight, impacts mood, and helps many of the body’s organs function normally. However, lupus can cause thyroid issues just like it causes issues with many other parts of the body.
Thyroid issues are relatively uncommon in the general population but are more common in people with lupus. Somewhere between 3% and 9% of people with the most common type of lupus end up experiencing hyperthyroidism, while only 1.3% of people without lupus experience it. So, many people with lupus don’t experience these issues, but experiencing them is still a potential sign of lupus.
Dryness is another symptom of the swelling caused by lupus. This is most often felt around the mouth and eyes, as these areas are particularly sensitive to dryness. However, it can also affect other areas of the body, like the skin and vagina.
Early Signs of Lupus in Women
Lupus can be a dangerous condition to deal with. However, if caught early, treatment for it can begin early and potentially prevent lifelong problems. Being familiar with the signs listed above is a big part of this.
Related: Association of Epstein–Barr Virus and Cytomegalovirus with Drug-Induced Lupus