Providing some insight on lupus, a debilitating autoimmune disease -- II

Today we'll resume our previous discussion of lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects millions of Americans. Specifically, we'll continue providing some basic background information with the aim of helping the public better understand this debilitating and sometimes deadly condition.

Symptoms of lupus

While lupus does not typically discriminate based on either age or gender, it does occur more frequently among women between the ages of 15-44.

As easy as it is may be to determine the incidence rates for lupus, however, it is that much more difficult to devise any sort of definitive list of symptoms.

That's largely because multiple organs can be affected by lupus, such that a person can experience very different symptoms at very different times.

The medical community has actually dubbed lupus "the great imitator" due to the fact that its symptoms can mirror those of other devastating illnesses such as fibromyalgia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease and blood disorders.

Nevertheless, there are some symptoms that have found been found to be indicative of lupus, including headaches, fatigue, anemia, swelling in the extremities or eyes, joint pain and hair loss, to name only a few.

Diagnosing lupus

There is no single laboratory test that will definitively determine whether a person has lupus. Instead, a physician (internist, family medicine doctor, etc.) will typically have to play the role of detective, examining blood tests and family history, and looking for certain telltale signs that taken together all point to the possibility of lupus.

If a lupus diagnosis is made, it's likely that a rheumatologist will need to be consulted.

It's very important for those suffering from truly debilitating conditions like lupus to understand that Social Security disability benefits can provide invaluable financial assistance and that an experienced attorney can guide them through the process of securing these benefits.

Source: Lupus Foundation of America, "What is lupus," Accessed Feb. 4, 2015