Lupus Diagnosis and Symptoms
- There are four types of lupus, but the one that is most frequently seen is called systemic lupus. In systemic lupus, the entire body of a person can be affected by the disease. Usually the skin, joints, lungs, kidneys and the patient's blood are involved when systemic lupus is present. Discoid lupus is a kind of lupus that affects only a person's skin, while drug-induced lupus occurs when someone takes certain kinds of prescription drugs and subsides when the person stops taking the medication. Neonatal lupus is a very seldom seen form of lupus in newborn babies. It often goes away as the baby grows.
- The symptoms of lupus literally differ from person to person and can gradually develop or come on seemingly overnight. They vary in intensity and can be fleeting or permanent. The symptoms depend on which of the body's systems lupus is affecting. Common lupus symptoms include joint pain and stiffness along with fatigue and fevers. Facials rashes that extend across the cheeks and the nose and lesions that develop on the skin and get worse when the person is out in the sun can occur with lupus. Loss of weight, weight gain, loss of hair, shortness of breath, and sores in the mouth can all be caused by lupus. People with lupus often bruise easily, have dry eyes, become depressed and experience chest pain. Another sign of lupus is when a person's toes and fingers turn blue or white when they are stressed or exposed to cold conditions.
- Someone with lupus can be vulnerable to a host of complications. It can damage the kidneys and result in kidney failure, which is how most people that die from lupus finally succumb to its effects. Lupus can attack the central nervous system and precipitate headaches, dizzy spells and seizures. The blood can be affected, with anemia and clotting problems possible. The heart muscle in lupus patients can become inflamed, as can the chest cavity. Lupus makes people susceptible to infections and lupus seems to increase the risk of certain cancers, such as bile duct cancer and lymphoma. Women who are pregnant and have lupus have a higher percentage of miscarriages than those who do not have the ailment.
- A complete blood count can be ordered to ultimately reveal anemia, a symptom in many cases of lupus. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate test reveals how fast blood settles to the bottom of a special tube and can help identify lupus. Urine tests and a liver and kidney assessment can discover if organs have been affected. Tests that can show if the immune system is stimulated are employed and chest X-rays along with electrocardiograms can look for problems in the lungs and heart that can be caused by lupus.
- Because the symptoms of lupus are so numerous and varied, the American College of Rheumatology has specific criteria to help diagnose the disease. If someone has 4 of the 11 criteria at any one time, then lupus is likely responsible. These criteria include the telltale face rash, a scaly rash that appears as patches of raised skin covered with scales, a sun induced rash, mouth sores, pain in the joints, kidney ailments, neurological problems such as seizures, lowered blood counts, swelling in the heart's lining, and tests that show positive for autoimmune disease.