How Long Can U Live With Lupus – When two autoimmune conditions share similar symptoms — such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) — diagnosis can be challenging.
Diagnosing autoimmune diseases can be difficult because there are usually no blood tests or specific imaging to confirm their presence. And when two autoimmune conditions share similar symptoms — such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) — rheumatologists sometimes face additional challenges.
How Long Can U Live With Lupus
“If a patient has a milder case of lupus and only the joints are affected, it looks like RA,” says Sandeep Krishna Agarwal, MD, PhD, rheumatologist, physician scientist, and associate professor and section head. of Immunology, Allergy & Rheumatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
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Both lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. The joints most commonly affected – the small ones in the fingers, wrists, knees, ankles, and toes – are the same. Symptoms are usually symmetrical, meaning both wrists are affected, for example, rather than one or the other. People with lupus or RA can also experience morning stiffness for at least an hour.
Although the symptoms of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are similar, people with lupus often experience additional symptoms that are not usually seen in people with RA.
“One of the main clues that indicate lupus is the presence of a rash,” said Dr. Agarwal. “RA rarely affects the skin.”
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The most common rash is the malar or “butterfly” rash, so named because it covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose, creating a shape similar to a butterfly spreading its wings. Rashes can also appear elsewhere on the body, usually in areas exposed to sunlight (such as the chest).
Lupus can also attack other organs, such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys (more on the kidneys below). If the lungs are affected, people may experience shortness of breath and pleurisy, an inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest that causes chest pain when breathing deeply. If the heart is affected, it can cause shortness of breath as well as chest pain that changes when you lean forward.
“RA sometimes affects the heart and lungs, but the symptoms are not the same,” said Dr. Agarwal. “People with RA can also have shortness of breath but pleurisy is less common. And the impact of RA on the heart – usually in the form of coronary artery disease or a heart attack – is not apparent until people have had RA for several years. .
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The presence of kidney-related symptoms can lead to lupus from RA because the kidneys are not usually affected by RA. Signs of kidney involvement include swollen ankles and excessive bubbles in the urine.
In severe cases of lupus, the brain is also affected, which can cause mental fog, confusion, memory loss, and even stroke.
Without a definitive test for RA or lupus, rheumatologists must rely on the patient’s medical history, physical exam, and blood, urine, and imaging tests to make a diagnosis.
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“Because both conditions cause similar joint symptoms and can limit range of motion, part of the physical exam is not all-clear,” said Dr. Agarwal. “What I’m looking for is something like rashes and swollen ankles that indicate lupus.”
The results of the complete blood count can also show, he added: “Lupus is more common for lupus patients to have a low white blood cell count, low platelet count, and certain forms of anemia.”
Rheumatologists also check the presence of certain autoantibodies in the blood to help make a diagnosis. The most basic test is the antinuclear antibody (ANA) test. People with lupus are almost always positive for ANA; However, people with RA sometimes test positive, as well as some healthy people.
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If you get a positive ANA result for lupus, your rheumatologist will then order additional autoantibody tests — including anti-stranded, anti-Smith, and antiphospholipid DNA tests — that help confirm the diagnosis of lupus.
If RA is suspected, your doctor will recommend more appropriate tests for RA. These include rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies, as well as tests that measure inflammation in the body, such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP).
Imaging tests such as X-rays can be very helpful in determining the diagnosis of lupus vs. Rheumatoid arthritis is true.
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This is because lupus, unlike RA, rarely causes joint erosion. Your doctor may also order a chest X-ray if you have symptoms such as shortness of breath that could indicate lupus; urine and blood tests can show that the kidneys have been affected.
If you are experiencing symptoms of lupus or RA, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible.
“If the diagnosis of RA is delayed, a lot of joint damage can occur,” says Dr. Agarwal. “And if lupus goes undiagnosed, you can end up with kidney failure.”
Lupus Diagnosis And Treatment
The good news, he adds, is that with the variety of treatment options available for these conditions, both RA and lupus are becoming easier to manage. Some drugs are useful in treating both diseases, including NSAIDs, corticosteroids, anti-malarial drugs such as Plaquenil, and immunosuppressive drugs such as methotrexate.
Treatment is different when RA and lupus are more severe: People with RA can be treated with biologics, while people with lupus will be treated with stronger immunosuppressive drugs, Dr. Agarwal.
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According to the Lupus Foundation of America, more than 1.5 million people in the United States have lupus. About 70 percent have
Systemic lupus erythematosus affects the entire body and can affect almost any part of the body, including the skin, major organs, hair, muscles, joints, and the digestive system.
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Most people with lupus receive a diagnosis between the ages of 15 and 44. Only about 15 percent of people develop symptoms of lupus before the age of 18.
Demographics and other factors can affect the severity and progression of the condition. Lupus is most common in women of childbearing age, and “two to three times more common in women of color,” according to the Lupus Foundation of America.
Found that women in minority groups developed lupus at a young age, experienced more severe symptoms, and were more likely to die from lupus than others.
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Lupus can cause subtle symptoms at first but worsen. These symptoms can appear suddenly or slowly.
Many people with lupus do not receive a diagnosis right away because it can mimic other conditions, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and several others that affect the same organ system.
Almost any symptom of disease or inflammation can signal lupus. However, some of the most common symptoms of lupus include:
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Exposure to sunlight can make this type of lupus worse. Some people with skin lupus can also have lupus inside the body.
Some babies are born with neonatal lupus, which occurs when the mother’s antibodies attack the baby. Usually, the mother and baby do not have systemic lupus erythematosus, although some women can develop lupus erythematosus.
There is no single test that can diagnose lupus. However, doctors should look for signs of systemic inflammation, which indicates that the immune system may be attacking the body.
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Lupus is a chronic disease. There is currently no cure, but there are some treatments that can help people manage symptoms and prevent serious complications.
Proper care varies from person to person, and care needs can change over time. Sometimes, drugs that once worked also stop working or start causing severe side effects.
Because of this, it is very important to work with a healthcare professional to create a comprehensive treatment plan.
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Scientists are investigating other strategies to treat lupus. Clinical trials offer hope for some people with the disease, so it may be worth asking your doctor if any trials are being conducted locally.
Some people with lupus find relief from alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and a special diet. Clinical research has yet to find strong evidence to show that this treatment works. However, trying it with other treatments is not harmful.
Many people with lupus find it challenging to live. Some people may be concerned about the long-term outlook or feel as if it is
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