What is Lupus? Everything you Need to Know

If you’ve been experiencing fatigue, a face rash, sensitivity to sunlight, and other conditions that hint that something may be off, it might be time to see a doctor. While many of these symptoms may be nothing to worry about, they could also be signs of Lupus.

Woman lying on sofa having headache. Stressed girl suffering of fatigue, migraine, trying to cope with nervous tension, worries because of problems, unwanted pregnancy, negative thoughts and emotions

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells. It’s chronic, meaning it lasts at least three months and often longer, and is known to cause major problems with skin, joints, and organs. Lupus can show up at any age but is most common among women who are between the ages of 15 and 44. Frequently, lupus goes untreated for quite some time because its symptoms are often similar to those of other ailments.  If you suspect you may be suffering from lupus, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Face rash: One of the most common signs of lupus is a facial rash that forms a butterfly-like shape across the nose and cheeks. This rash isn’t present in all cases of lupus but appears in many of them.
  • Fatigue: Another common sign of lupus is fatigue. Though it’s hard to measure scientifically, this sign is present within 50-90% of people suffering from lupus and is often strong enough to impact quality of life.
  • Sensitivity to sunlight: Nearly two out of every three individuals with lupus become sensitive to sunlight, and many of them develop a rash after spending time in the sun. More formally, this condition is known as photosensitivity.
  • Shortness of Breath: In some cases, lupus can cause lung inflammation that may contribute to difficulty breathing.
  • Headaches, Confusion, and Memory Loss: Lupus is known to cause headaches and various forms of cognitive impairment. Typically, these issues are worse during flare ups of the illness.
  • Joint Pain: Joint pain, swelling, and inflammation are common among individuals with lupus. This is so common that around 95% of people with lupus will experience arthritis or joint pain at some point.

You should consider seeing a doctor if you’re concerned about any of these symptoms, but especially if you’re experiencing persistent fatigue and fevers or a rash that can’t be explained. It’s important to see a doctor rather than brushing the symptoms aside, because sometimes the inflammation that’s triggered by lupus can cause other serious problems throughout the body, such as kidney damage, issues with the brain and central nervous system, blood issues like anemia, heart issues, and even pregnancy complications such as higher risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia.

While lupus is certainly a serious condition, it’s also treatable and can be managed to allow you to live a full and relatively normal life.  Lupus typically ranges from a mild condition to one that’s more life threatening, so it’s important to stay on top of your medical care to manage the illness. If you’re concerned you may be suffering from lupus and want to speak with a knowledgeable physician, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.