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Video:Symptoms That Might Indicate Lupus

with Dr. Bob Lahita

Lupus is associated with extreme joint pain, but there are many other symptoms which can indicate lupus. Learn more about symptoms of lupus and how a doctor can diagnose the disease correctly.See Transcript

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Transcript:Symptoms That Might Indicate Lupus

This is Dr. Bob Lahita and I'm Chairman of Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, part of Barnabas Health and Professor of Medicine at UMDNJ in Newark, New Jersey and I'm talking about the various symptoms that make you suspect that you have the disease lupus erythematosus.

Joint Pain is Common with Lupus

This is a very, very complicated disease – we call it an autoimmune disease – so the symptoms and signs of this disease are very nebulous – I guess that's a good word for it. It means that virtually any part of your body can be affected and can be a clue to having this illness. But there are some really good clues about whether you have lupus.

First of all, if you're a woman of child-bearing years, your propensity for getting autoimmune phenomena is fairly good. You can have joint pains from a variety of things, but joint pains that persist and don't go away. Not actually redness of the joints in arthritis, but actual pain of the joints and weakness of the muscles can suggest that you might have an autoimmune disease like lupus.

Other Symptoms Connected to Lupus

Hair loss, a rash on your face which is sensitive to the sun, a feeling of difficulty breathing, or a cough or chest pains that won't go away. A lot of my patients tend to have chest pain when breathing in and breathing out. Or they may have an inflammation of the lung lining or the lining of the heart which is called pericarditis. These various signs and symptoms can certainly suggest that you have an autoimmune disease. It doesn't necessarily have to be lupus but lupus is very suspicious.

Medical History Helps Specialists Recognize Lupus

It's important to write down all these symptoms or signs and give it to your doctor when you first go to him or her. Because 80% of the diagnosis is going to made on what you tell the doctor what you have or what you experience. Remember there is no laboratory test that is specific for systemic lupus, at least not one that your general doctor is going to get.

If you go to a specialist like a rheumatologist, he or she will do specific testing that will help them differentiate your simple joint pains, feeling of weakness and fatigue, hair loss and rashes from autoimmune phenomena versus an actual disease like systemic lupus. This is Dr. Bob Lahita for About.com.

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