While lupus is a disease that is more often talked about in this day and age, it is still relatively unknown to many people. Leaving many people wondering what exactly is lupus and how do I know if I have it? The conversation surrounding lupus – or systemic lupus erythematosus – came into the mainstream back in 2018, when famous singer and actress Selena Gomez spoke about her diagnosis with the disease.
Nevertheless, for most people, the symptoms, causes, and treatment for lupus are still unknown. Lupus is best treated when it is caught early, so knowing the signs of lupus is absolutely crucial to ensure you can get it checked out right away.
In this post, we will explore what exactly lupus is, and some of the key symptoms to watch out for.
What exactly is lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, meaning that it is a long-term condition that causes your immune system to attack your body’s “good” cells, causing all sorts of health issues. Other autoimmune diseases you might have heard of include celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Lupus is a condition that can’t be cured, but it can be managed through a combination of medications and lifestyle.
What causes lupus?
Unlike some other autoimmune diseases, the cause of lupus is not strictly known. Scientists believe that lupus can be inherited genetically, but that isn’t the only way people can contract the disease.
Others suggest that their environment, such as a highly stressful environment, can cause lupus to flare up for the first time. It is true that those already diagnosed with lupus can have flare-ups after stressful events, but it is unclear whether this causes lupus in the first place!
Ultimately, there are no proven causes of lupus – the research is still ongoing. However, the causes are not necessarily as important as recognising the symptoms; in the next section, we will explore when you should see your doctor about potentially having lupus.
What are the symptoms of lupus?
Like many autoimmune diseases, the symptoms of lupus can cross over with many other symptoms for different illnesses of varying severity. This means that if you experience the following symptoms, it isn’t a confirmation that you have lupus – but you should still see a doctor as soon as possible.
The most common symptoms of lupus are:
This is the main symptom of lupus. Chronic fatigue can occur from lots of illnesses, like depression, endometriosis, M.E, and even COVID-19. If you constantly feel tired, no matter how much you sleep, rest or avoid exercise, it is likely you might have an illness that needs to be diagnosed. One of these could be lupus.
2. Pain in your joints and muscles.
A young, healthy person shouldn’t experience chronic pain in their joints and muscles – this means something is wrong. Lupus patients often experience painful, arthritic-type joints and aching muscles without having done much exercise to cause this.
Like the other symptoms listed here, a rash can be caused by lots of things, both benign and serious. A rash on your face (particularly your nose and cheeks) that constantly flares up is a sign of lupus, so make sure you have this checked out by your GP.
Overall, lupus awareness is growing around the world. If you want to learn more about what exactly lupus is, or you suspect you have symptoms, speak with a health professional.