One of every 1.5 million women, men, and children in the United States has an autoimmune disease called lupus. If you have lupus, your immune system attacks healthy tissue. Lupus has no cure, but once you get a diagnosis, you can learn to manage it so you can live a rich and full life.
Our caring and expert rheumatologists at the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey diagnose and treat lupus at our offices in Somerville, Flemington, and Monroe, New Jersey.
If you’re experiencing a range of diffuse symptoms and you’re not sure what’s causing them, you may have lupus. Following are 10 telltale symptoms that sometimes — but not always — spring from the disease.
1. You have a butterfly rash
The most recognizable symptom of lupus is a red rash on your face that extends over the bridge of your nose and over each cheek. The shape of the rash resembles the shape of a butterfly. You may also have other skin lesions or rashes. Not everyone with lupus has a butterfly rash, though.
2. Your skin breaks out after sun exposure
One of the telltale signs of lupus is breaking out in a rash after spending time in the sun. The rash appears whether or not you used sunscreen and whether or not you got a sunburn.
3. Your joints are painful and swollen
Although a number of other conditions cause painful joint swelling, joint pain is one of the telltale symptoms of lupus. Because lupus is an autoimmune disease, your immune system treats healthy tissues in your joints as if they were invaders.
Your immune system attacks your joints and causes inflammation, which leads to pain and swelling. Painful swelling in your joints that lasts for more than three months could be a sign of lupus.
4. Cold affects your fingers
Sometimes people with lupus notice that their fingers react strongly to cold temperatures. They may turn paler than normal, go numb, or just feel uncomfortable. You might also notice that your toes or fingers look blue or purplish.
5. Breathing hurts
Lupus can affect your lungs, too. If it hurts to take a deep breath, you may have a condition called pleurisy, which is an inflammation of your lungs. If you’re having trouble breathing, contact a doctor right away. Pleurisy that lasts for more than a few days could be caused by lupus.
6. You’ve been losing lots of hair
Your hairbrush or comb is suddenly filled with extra strands of hair, or you find hair on the floor or on your clothing. Although hair loss can be caused by a number of factors, including the hormonal changes of aging, sudden hair loss may be a sign of lupus.
7. You have sores in your mouth
Lupus can attack any area of your skin. Even if you don’t have a visible skin rash, you may develop sores or ulcers in your mouth. Mouth sores that last for more than two weeks are often a sign of lupus.
8. Your eyes feel itchy and dry
Dry eyes may just be a sign of irritation or eye strain. But if your eyes frequently feel itchy or dry — particularly if you have one or more other symptoms of lupus — it could be a sign of the autoimmune disease.
9. You feel confused or foggy
Lupus can affect your brain. If you have trouble remembering things or if it’s hard to focus or complete tasks, you may have lupus. But brain fog can also be caused by other factors, such as hormonal imbalances, so be sure to get an official diagnosis.
10. You’re tired all the time
When you have lupus, your immune system is in constant attack mode. That requires energy that robs you of your normal stamina. Whether it’s lupus or not, you should see a doctor to find out why your energy levels have dipped below normal.
If you have one or more of these symptoms of lupus, call our office nearest you today so you get the diagnosis and treatment you need to feel better. You may also request an appointment using our online tool.