Painful Joints and Body Weakness? It Could Be Lupus

Painful Joints and Body Weakness? It Could Be Lupus

Peace Nwoha |Apr 1, 2021

Do I Have Lupus?

Your body has an immune system that defends it from germs and foreign bodies. Sometimes, your body’s defense system mistakes some of the cells in your body for germs and begins to fight them. This is called an autoimmune disease, and lupus is just one example.

Lupus is a long-term autoimmune condition with alternating periods of mild to severe symptoms that cause pain and inflammation within your body. The most commonly affected areas include the skin, organs such as the lungs, kidneys, heart, and joints.

The Lupus Foundation stated that about 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with the condition. However, the figure might be higher if you consider cases that have not been reported. Lupus affects all age groups but has been found to have a higher incidence among women between the ages of 15 to 44, individuals with a family history of other autoimmune conditions or lupus, and some ethnic groups, including Hispanic, Native American, African American, and Asian American.

Types of Lupus

This article focuses on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), as it is the most common type. When someone is talking about lupus, they are usually referring to SLE. However, there are four different types:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) — the most common type, affecting 70% of people with lupus.
  • Cutaneous — limited to the skin, causing rashes or sores (lesions). Approximately two-thirds of people with lupus will develop a form of cutaneous lupus.
  • Drug-induced — a lupus-like disease caused by certain prescription medications. This type is more common in men.
  • Neonatal — not true lupus, but a rare condition that affects the fetus and infant of a mother with lupus.

Symptoms of Lupus

The symptoms associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) include:

  • Body weakness
  • Loss of hair
  • Pain and swelling in the joints
  • A characteristic rash that spreads across the nose and cheeks commonly referred to as a “butterfly rash”
  • Headaches
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon in which the fingers turn blue or white when exposed to cold

The symptoms may develop slowly, and no two cases are exactly alike. They may be temporary or permanent, and they can range from mild to severe. The signs and symptoms are similar to those of other systemic conditions, so careful assessment is needed to diagnose properly.

Causes

The cause of this condition is still unknown, but some factors have been linked to the condition.

Estrogen Hormone

Lupus has been noted to occur more in females than males with worsened symptoms during menstruation and pregnancy. These findings have prompted clinicians to link estrogen with the condition.

Heredity

Although no gene is associated with the condition so far, it has been observed that individuals with this condition tend to have members of their family who also have other autoimmune issues.

Environmental Triggers

These can be from physical or emotional trauma, infections, medications, and radiation.

How to Manage Lupus

Management begins with an appropriate diagnosis. This usually includes your doctor taking a medical history to determine when the symptoms started, their frequency, duration, and severity.

A thorough physical examination is then conducted to identify the signs of the condition, such as:

  • Thinning or loss of hair
  • Tenderness and joint swelling
  • Butterfly or malar rash
  • Oral or nasal ulcers
  • Pain or difficulty breathing which may indicate lung involvement
  • Irregularities in heartbeat or function which could indicate heart involvement

Several screening tests may be done, including a chest x-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), urinalysis, blood tests, and tests for other specific areas that could be affected, such as the abdomen.

Treatment Options

As of today, there is still no cure for lupus. The condition can only be managed long-term through:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and antimalarial medications to relieve joint pain and tenderness
  • Corticosteroids to stabilize the immune system
  • Steroid-based creams for butterfly rashes
  • In severe cases, medications that specifically target the immune system are often prescribed

You may also get referred to specialists who will help manage affected parts of your body, such as a cardiologist or rheumatologist. You should also ensure that you modify your lifestyle to reduce stress and environmental triggers and drink lots of water.

Complications

Lupus can cause severe pregnancy complications, sometimes resulting in miscarriage, so it is essential to involve your doctor throughout your pregnancy and delivery process. Since the condition affects the immune system in various parts of the body, long-term effects can manifest in several ways, such as:

  • Blood clots could get dislodged and block narrow blood vessels leading to loss of function of the affected organ
  • Inflamed blood vessels, lungs, and kidneys
  • Lung or Kidney failure
  • Memory loss
  • Alopecia or baldness
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Seizures

What is the Prognosis?

The prognosis for lupus varies because it affects everyone differently. Nonetheless, it is crucial that you begin managing the condition early. Do not hesitate to let your health care provider know about any new symptoms, pregnancy, or issues that may be bothering you.

Systemic lupus erythematosus is a long-term condition, and managing it can sometimes negatively affect mental health. Make sure to seek counseling and support when necessary, and try not to work under stressful conditions or in environments that can be detrimental to your health and well-being.

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10 Most Common Symptoms of Poor Circulation

John David Abundo | April 1, 2021

Symptoms of Poor Circulation In this article, we will focus on the symptoms of poor circulation and when you should seek medical help. Signs of Poor Circulation 1. Varicose Veins If the valves in the veins of the legs are damaged, your blood will find it difficult to get back to the heart. This results in engorged veins and will eventually cause varicosities in the legs. Varicose veins are more common to those who regularly stand for long periods. 2. Painful Muscle Cramping The most common symptom of poor circulation is claudication, described as muscle discomfort or painful cramping, particularly in the legs. This is felt when you exercise or walk and usually disappears after resting your legs. The muscles that are most involved are the hips, thighs or calves. Claudication happens if there is a hindrance to the normal blood flow. For example, in atherosclerosis, where there is a buildup of cholesterol plaques in the blood vessels, the muscles cannot get enough blood during physical activity. The cramping pain is the muscle’s way of warning you that it is not getting enough blood during exercise to meet its increased demand. 3. Numbness or Weakness Reduced blood flow to different body parts may cause slow and irreversible damage to the nerves, which may be felt as tingling, numbness or weakness in that area. This is particularly alarming because having numbness on the extremities decreases your skin’s sensitivity to pain. As a result, there may be instances where your skin has already been damaged or wounded, but you cannot feel it. 4. Temperature Differences in the Extremities Poor circulation can lead to fluctuations in your skin’s temperature regulation. For example, reduced blood flow to your hands or feet may make them colder than the other parts of your body. To assess the temperature of your skin, you can use the back of your hands for a more accurate assessment. 5. Wounds That Do Not Heal or Heal Slowly Wounds heal by the different components and cells delivered through the bloodstream to the affected area. When blood flow is compromised, the healing process takes much longer and may even lead to infections. Even the slightest break in the skin may lead to catastrophic changes that could lead to amputation, especially in people with diabetes. 6. Change of Skin Color When there is insufficient blood flow, the skin may appear pale or blue (cyanosis). The change of color in the skin indicates that the oxygen-rich blood is unable to reach those tissues. The commonly affected body parts that may have this symptom are the toes, fingers, palms, soles and lips. [youmaylike] 7. Poor Hair or Nail Growth Hair and nails need the nutrients in your body to keep them healthy. Nutrients are delivered to the hair and nails through the blood. Therefore, any blockage or hindrance of the normal circulation of blood may affect the growth of healthy hair and nails, which can lead to hair loss or poor nail growth. 8. Shiny Skin on Legs Shiny skin on the legs can indicate that the skin stretched due to excess fluids in the legs. Poor circulation can cause blood pooling in the legs, resulting in fluid leakage from the blood vessels to the surrounding tissues. In turn, the skin will stretch, giving it a shiny appearance. 9. Weak Pulses When blood flow is restricted, the usual, brisk pulses on the extremities become weaker. Doctors usually include this in their physical examination to rule out any peripheral arterial disease. 10. Erectile Dysfunction in Men The penis is made up mostly of blood vessels. Penile erection happens because the arteries of the penis are filled up with blood to elongate and stiffen the organ. When there is poor circulation, blood cannot fill up the blood vessels in the penis. Most cases of impotence are a complication primarily of the arterial system. What is Poor Circulation? Poor circulation is not a condition in itself, but having any of its symptoms may indicate more serious conditions, such as: Peripheral artery disease (PAD). Uncontrolled diabetes. Blood clots. Atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty deposits in the vessels). Heart conditions. Having poor circulation may not be apparent initially. Still, whether you experience symptoms or not, it is important to be aware of them early on to help detect the underlying cause. For example, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity are all factors that increase the likelihood of a person experiencing poor circulation symptoms. In Review The symptoms of poor circulation may vary for each person. In general, conditions that cause poor circulation are easier to treat when your doctor detects it early. If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect that it may be caused by a dysfunction in your normal blood circulation, it is essential that you see your doctor for assessment and treatment right away.

9 Signs of Pregnancy to Be Aware Of

Sinead Carey | April 1, 2021

What Are the Symptoms of Pregnancy? The early signs and symptoms of pregnancy can vary wildly from person to person. It is essential to be aware of the common symptoms and the possible and rare symptoms. So, what are the symptoms of pregnancy? We will dive into the specifics. Common Symptoms of Pregnancy 1. Missed Period Missing your period is most often the first sign of pregnancy. Your body recognizes the conception and stops making the hormone that sheds the lining of your womb. Your menstrual cycle is essentially paused, and you won’t have another period until after the baby is born. 2. Morning Sickness Contrary to what is shown on TV, morning sickness can also happen at noon and night. Feeling nauseous and vomiting is a normal part of early pregnancy. It is most common in the morning, and this is what coined the term. 3. Overtiredness or Fatigue You know the feeling when you sleep well but still feel tired? That is fatigue, and it is common in early pregnancy. Experts say this is due to the rise of hormone levels. This feeling tends to improve over time. 4. Frequent Urination Are you going to the bathroom every 10 minutes? This is another sign of pregnancy. Your body’s blood supply increases to support the new life, which means your kidneys must work harder. More waste plus more urine equals extra trips to the bathroom. 5. Aching Breasts Your breasts may start to feel sore and tender. You may have felt this before during your period, or it could be a completely new experience. This feeling is due to your fluctuating hormone levels and should fade with time. Some people describe this as an aching or tingling feeling. You might also experience a slight enlargement of your breasts. 6. Mild Cramps and Spotting Don’t panic if you see you have light spotting or cramping in the first few weeks. Spotting can indicate that the embryo has implanted in the lining of your womb. Implantation usually takes place a few days after you conceive and can cause blood spots or brown discharge. This symptom is crucial to know about, as it causes many people to believe they are not pregnant. If you are concerned or the bleeding persists, speak to your doctor without delay. 7. Headaches Persistent headaches can be a sign of so many things. That is why people don’t recognize them as a sign of pregnancy. If you are experiencing frequent headaches, there may be more to it than you think. Make sure you find a headache treatment option that safe for you. 8. Metallic Taste in Mouth Some people experience a metallic, coppery taste during early pregnancy. It can happen when eating or at seemingly random times throughout the day. Again, people do not consistently recognize the taste as a possibility of pregnancy. 9. Changes in Food Preferences This symptom varies from person to person, and some don’t experience it at all! You may crave certain foods; you may feel sick after certain foods; you can have a complete aversion to food altogether. Nutrition during pregnancy is important, and you should discuss this symptom with your doctor. [youmaylike] Rare Symptoms of Pregnancy Other symptoms that are rare but could affect you are: Heightened sense of smell. Heart palpitations. Increased saliva production (more drool). Nosebleeds. Swollen gums or tooth problems. More pimples or acne. Hot sweats. Are At-Home Pregnancy Tests Reliable? The sure-fire way to know if you are pregnant is to take an at-home test. These tests are reliable, and though false positives occur, it is rare. Always check the label, as different brands show different symbols to indicate pregnancy. The tests generally take a few minutes to develop, and digital tests can even display the word pregnant. When Should You Talk to a Doctor If You Think You’re Pregnant? If you suspect that you are pregnant, have a positive test result or are currently trying to get pregnant, the next step is to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will want to take a complete medical history, and if you are already pregnant, they may prescribe prenatal medication. The doctor can guide you on the steps throughout the pregnancy and lend an ear if you have any questions. It is vital to discuss everything with a medical professional. Your doctor is the gateway to an informed and happy pregnancy.

Follow These 8 Tips to Prevent Balding

Elizabeth Dickson | April 1, 2021

How to Prevent Balding If balding or thinning hair is one of your worries, we have got the solutions for you. In this article, we will chat about the symptoms of balding, the causes, how to prevent balding and how to cope with hair loss. Losing a few strands of hair every day is completely normal, but what do you do when you begin losing more hair than you should? According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 80 million people in America have hereditary hair loss (alopecia). In addition, according to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), approximately 25% of men who have hereditary male pattern baldness start losing their hair before the age of 21. By the age of 50, about 85% of men are bald or have significantly thinner hair. 8 Ways to Prevent Balding If genetics is the reason for your hair loss, there might not be a lot that can be done to prevent it. However, these tips can help slow down or prevent loss if other reasons are causing it: Treat your hair gently and avoid pulling; use caution when washing, brushing and styling your hair. Avoid harsh treatments, such as coloring and perms. Protect your hair from the sun; wear a hat and avoid tanning beds. Quit smoking. Some studies suggest there is a link between balding and regular smoking. Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Avoid hot showers and shampoo that causes scalp irritation. Talk to your doctor or dietician about supplements that may help slow down your hair loss. If you are getting treatments for cancer or taking a medication that causes hair loss as a side effect, speak to your doctor about getting a cold cap or other measures to prevent hair loss. If you try the above tactics and still feel that hair loss is negatively impacting your life, it is important to seek out medical advice. First, talk to your doctor about prescription or over-the-counter treatments for hair loss. Your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss. Hair Loss Symptoms Hair loss can look different from person to person, depending on the severity and cause. However, here are some common symptoms to watch for. Slow and Consistent Loss of Hair Starting at the Top of the Head This is the most common form of hair loss. As you age, you can experience thinning of the hair on the top of your head, especially men. In men, this typically looks like a receding hairline or thinning hair or a thinning patch on top of the head. In women, this typically looks like the widening of the part of the hair, along with loss of hair around the forehead. Sudden Loss of Hair It's as if it has become loose from your scalp. Our bodies are extremely sensitive to changes and will work hard to cope with those changes. Therefore, environmental and emotional stress can cause you to lose handfuls of hair at a time. Thankfully, this type of hair loss is typically temporary and will stop once the stressors have been addressed. [youmaylike] Patches of Hair Loss All Over the Scalp With this type of hair loss, hair consistently falls out from the same spot on your scalp. This leaves your scalp with patches or circular spots of missing hair. Not only can this affect the hair on your head, but it can also leave patches of missing hair on your face, such as in your beard or eyebrows. Loss of Both Scalp and Body Hair This type of hair loss is less common than the others. It typically only affects individuals who are taking a strong medication or treatment, such as chemotherapy. The lost hair generally regrows with ease once the treatment has stopped. Causes of Hair Loss There are several reasons why you may experience hair loss, including: Hereditary and genetic factors. Hormonal and systemic body changes. Certain medications and medical conditions. Mechanical stress, such as consistent pulling on the hair. Emotional and environmental factors. Radiation exposure. Some degree of hair loss is entirely normal. Typically, you lose between 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. New hair strands grow at about the same rate, meaning that hair loss isn't generally noticeable until you have exceeded this number.