There are so many different diseases that have similar symptoms that it’s sometimes hard to determine exactly what you have. In the case of fibromyalgia, there are a variety of similar conditions that cause you to become sluggish and feel constant pain. In this article, we’re going to take a look at lupus, which is one of the many diseases that often get mixed up with fibromyalgia. What is lupus, and what symptoms overlap? Let’s take a look.
What is Lupus?
Imagine that everything in your body was swollen and inflamed. Everything hurts, and your body started to have odd reactions to everything that happens within your body. Your heart may start beating irregularly or may beat a lot more quickly than it would otherwise. You end up having a weak immune system and you’re more likely to fight off illness. Headaches are a regular part of your daily life, and you feel exhausted a lot of the time.
These are very common signs and the results of an autoimmune disease known as lupus. Lupus, in short, is where your immune system starts to attack pretty much everything in your body, causing it to swell and, in turn, causing a variety of different health problems that you have to cope with.
Lupus is not very common, with less than 1 million known cases across the country. There are three main types of lupus – one is caused by the use of drugs, one affects only the skin and face (it results in a severe rash), and the last, and most common, is known as systemic lupus erythematosus.
This form of lupus is the one that goes through your body, screwing everything up. At this point, the causes of lupus are thought to be genetic and environmental, and it is especially common if you have been exposed to particular types of toxins in your body. The symptoms are all over the place, and two people with lupus are not usually going to have the same symptoms because of how many different things it can do to the body.
The scary part about lupus is that it can affect a lot of your internal organs. One of the most commonly attacked organs is the liver, which is what causes jaundice (yellowing of the skin) that you see in many people who are suffering from lupus.
In the worst cases, lupus sufferers may need to have parts of certain organs removed or they may even need to get transplants because of how much damage can be done as a result of the disease. This is rare, and only really happens if the lupus is left untreated.
Other issues that can come up with lupus are exhaustion, stress, pain, and issues where your organs are not acting as they should. That being said, lupus often gets misdiagnosed as other types of diseases before a doctor finally makes a clear diagnosis.
Where Do Lupus and Fibromyalgia Intersect?
Before we get into this, it’s important to realize that those with fibromyalgia don’t end up getting lupus unless it is a medication based one; even those cases are quite rare. If they happen together, it’s because a lupus sufferer ended up developing fibromyalgia over time. It’s estimated that about 1/3 of all lupus sufferers end up having fibromyalgia as well, so it’s an important thing for you to keep in mind if you are already diagnosed with lupus. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about possibly developing fibromyalgia.
Many people with lupus accidentally get misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia first, because of the major symptoms of fatigue, depression, and periods of remission and flare-ups that seem to alternate. But that’s where the similarities between the two diseases seem to end.
As mentioned above, lupus is an autoimmune disorder, whereas fibromyalgia is not. Fibromyalgia is not going to damage your organs and tissues that are inside your body, whereas lupus is going to do a lot of that. Blood tests and other types of tests will help your doctor determine whether you have one, the other, or even both of the disorders at the same time.
How Does Treatment Work?
Because the symptoms are so similar, and because the doctor is ultimately trying to achieve the same goal, a lot of the treatments for lupus and fibromyalgia are going to intersect with one another. Many times, you are going to be told to go to physical therapy on a regular basis, or you’re going to be encouraged to get more exercise than you would.
Yoga and aerobics are two types of exercise that are incredibly helpful for those who are suffering from the pain of either (or both) disorders, because they’re low impact, but they help to increase your motion and your flexibility at the same time.
You may also approach natural remedies for both lupus and fibromyalgia. You may want to take supplements, which means that you’re going to increase the nutrients in your body that will help with the healing process. You may also consider acupuncture, chiropractics, and other forms of therapy that are more about the holistic end of the healing process. In other cases, you may consider prescription medication and techniques that will help to reduce the pain and stress that you are feeling from the fibromyalgia and the lupus symptoms that you’re dealing with.
So, as you can see, there are lots of different ways that lupus and fibromyalgia intersect, thus making it hard to determine the difference between the two.
If you are working with a professional (which you should be), they will be able to give you the proper tests that will result in a correct diagnosis. It’s important to figure out which disorder(s) that you actually have, because then you can be sure to get the treatment that you need in order to live your life. Contact your specialist today if you have any questions or concerns about either lupus or fibromyalgia.