When you hear someone talk about lupus, they are most likely talking about systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) because it’s the most common form of lupus, which is a relatively rare condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t have recent information regarding how many people have SLE, but estimates that about .01% of the population (about five out of 100,000 people) is diagnosed with it each year.
The skilled providers at Rheumatology Solutions in Windcrest, Texas, know that systemic lupus can be difficult to diagnose, and the symptoms can even be difficult for patients to recognize. In this post, we discuss five subtle signs of lupus that are easy to miss.
SLE affects several different systems in most instances. Your kidneys, skin, joints, heart, nervous system, and lungs may all be involved. Depending on which systems and organs are involved and the severity of your disease, your symptoms may be wildly different that someone else’s even if you both have SLE.
Additionally, your symptoms may be permanent or can suddenly disappear, or they may come and go. All these factors are part of the reason it can be difficult to diagnose systemic lupus.
Since SLE causes widespread inflammation, quite a few symptoms are possible. Some are quite common and obvious, such as the telltale butterfly-shaped rash that appears on your cheeks and nose. The following five signs are sometimes subtle.
Most everyone has had the experience of body aches with the flu. If you have systemic lupus, you may have aches like that in the absence of the flu.
You may also have joint and muscle pain. The most common sites for this kind of pain include the neck, shoulders, upper arms, and thighs.
Photosensitivity is the medical name for being sensitive to light. If sunlight makes you develop a rash, fever, joint pain, or fatigue it could be a symptom of systemic lupus.
If you find it painful to take a deep breath, you may think you have asthma or some other breathing problem. But, lupus can cause pleurisy, which is an inflammation of the tissue that protects your lungs. You may also feel short of breath without having done anything to cause it.
Fever is a fairly common symptom for people with SLE because your immune system is involved. However, you may not realize that it’s a symptom if fevers are “normal” for you. In other words, if you have fevers often enough that you get used to the feeling, you might not identify it as a symptom.
SLE can affect your nervous system and cause headaches, confusion, difficulty concentrating, or memory problems. Some people describe the confusion and concentration issues as having brain fog. It can be a frustrating symptom, and it may not feel like a symptom of a disease.
If you’d like to learn more about the symptoms associated with systemic lupus, schedule your appointment at Rheumatology Solutions today. We have the training and skills to make a diagnosis, and we’re always happy to answer your questions.