Many people confuse lupus with fibromyalgia because they share similar symptoms. Both cause fatigue and muscle ache. And both are chronic conditions that make living with them difficult. But lupus and fibromyalgia are different diseases and are easy to distinguish once you know the symptoms.
However, because the diseases both tend to be common in women of child-bearing age, it is possible to have both lupus and fibromyalgia. In fact, 1 in 4 people with lupus also have symptoms similar to fibromyalgia. So how can you tell if you have both? And how does having lupus affect fibromyalgia?
What is lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes pain and inflammation in different parts of the body. Like any autoimmune disease, your body’s immune system going haywire and attacking your body’s own tissue triggers lupus.
Lupus attacks many different parts of the body but most often targets the skin or internal organs. The severity of lupus varies widely from person to person. In situations where lupus attacks the sin, the largest symptom is a visible rash, most often on the face or nose.
In more serious cases, lupus attacks vital organs such as the brain, which kills the patient. Though in most cases, early medical intervention allows lupus patients to live healthy, productive lives.
How is it different from fibromyalgia?
There are a number of key differences between lupus and fibromyalgia. First, while Lupus is known to be the result of your body’s immune system attacking itself, fibromyalgia has no known cause. Some people speculate that like lupus, fibromyalgia is an immune disorder. But where lupus attacks the tissue in your body, fibromyalgia causes pain in your joints without damaging them.
So, while lupus is a more life-threatening disease, both cause painful and debilitating symptom such as pain and fatigue. And finally, lupus is more understood than fibromyalgia and effective therapies exist for treating it, such as immunosuppressant drugs.
And finally, lupus is more understood than fibromyalgia and more effective therapies exist for treating it, such as immunosuppressant drugs.
How can you tell if you have both?
The easiest way to tell if you have lupus is when it manifests physically in the form of a distinctive rash. Unfortunately, lupus affects everyone differently. So it can be hard to diagnose. Doctors can perform tests to determine if you have lupus.
If you have constant fatigue and muscle pains, then there is a good chance you have at least one of the conditions. Both are symptoms consistent among fibromyalgia and lupus. So if you do have these symptoms, it is worth going to the doctor for tests.
If you also develop a rash, hair-thinning, or a low-grade fever, then it is more likely that you have lupus. Again, a trip to the doctor’s office is the only way to know for sure.
How does it affect fibromyalgia?
So how does having both lupus and fibromyalgia affect you? Well, for reasons that are not quite understood, having either condition makes you more likely to develop the other. It’s estimated that around 25% of people with lupus will also have with fibromyalgia.
Secondly, having lupus is also known to make your fibromyalgia symptoms more severe and frequent. Fibromyalgia sufferers who also have lupus will have attacks more often. The attacks will also last longer and be more painful.
Finally, having lupus makes diagnosing your fibromyalgia more difficult because the symptoms are so similar. Luckily, doctors can manage lupus and minimize this effect with good treatment.
The most important thing to remember when you are suffering from lupus symptoms is to get help as soon as possible. Don’t assume that the symptoms you are feeling are just related to fibromyalgia and be aware of the early lupus warning signs.
Lupus is a serious disease that is life-threatening. So it is important to be on guard for signs of developing it and to get treatment. And that will also help you manage the complications of having both lupus and fibromyalgia.