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Sure Signs You Have Lupus Like Selena Gomez

Experts explain what lupus is and signs you have it. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

May is lupus awareness month and back in 2015, Selena Gomez revealed her battle with disease and shocked fans when she underwent a kidney transplant as a result of the debilitating condition. "Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease , where the immune system produces autoantibodies that eventually will attack the joints, skin, kidneys , lungs, heart and other organs," Dr. Suzanne El-Sayegh, Associate Chair of Medicine at Staten Island University Hospital explained to Eat This, Not That! Health. She added, "Anyone can develop lupus; however, the risk is higher among young women with family history of lupus or other autoimmune disease," and "Lupus can affect any organ system in the body. The presentation of this condition can range from fatigue, weight loss, fever, joint pain to end organ damage." But not everyone will need a kidney transplant like Gomez. Dr. El-Sayegh said, "Not all patients with lupus will need a kidney transplant. Only patients with advanced renal failure or on dialysis will require evaluation for kidney transplant." There's several symptoms that indicate you could have lupus and we spoke with Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, Ph.D., a professor of public health at New Mexico State University who explained signs to watch out for. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Malar/Discoid Rash

Young woman outdoors checking her face in a round powder compact mirror.

Dr. Khubchandani explains, "These may appear like rashes or flush of skin around cheeks and nose (malar rash) or sores, scarring, or scaling around face, ears, and scalp (discoid rash). The exact causes may not be well known for many of the skin manifestations of Lupus, but the autoimmune destruction of skin tissue could be a potential reason." 


Reduced White Blood Cells

man getting blood test

Dr. Khubchandani says, "In a blood test of Lupus patients, one can expect anemia, low hemoglobin, reduced number of white blood cells or platelets. It is postulated that this could be due to overexpression of some immune cells that cause reduced expression of other types of blood cells leading to anemia and infections. Some experts argue that this could be due to a variety of other problems that occur with Lupus (e.g. medication, kidney failures, blood loss, infections, and nutritional deficiencies.)Irrespective of the causal mechanisms, blood tests are key for diagnosis and monitoring of disease progression."


Blood in Urine

man prostate cancer, premature, ejaculation, fertility, bladder problem

"Just like other organs and systems, kidneys are attacked by the autoantibodies that are produced in Lupus," states Dr. Khubchandani. "This would mean that kidney structures responsible for waste clearance, filtration, and blood circulation are attacked as well. This could lead to kidney inflammation resulting in excretion of blood in the urine, protein in the urine, high blood pressure, impaired kidney function, or even kidney failure."


Neurological Disorders

Woman sitting on bed and holding head in her hands.

Dr. Khubchandani shares, "The autoantibodies produced in Lupus can affect different components of the nervous system (central=brain versus peripheral=nerves) both directly (attacking nerve cells) or indirectly (obstructing blood flow to nerves). This results in both functional and structural abnormalities (e.g. cognitive decline, fibromyalgia, headaches, drooping eyelids, facial pain, vision loss, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal blood pressure, etc)."



Woman suffering from hand pain.

Dr. Khubchandani explains, "Given the widespread and systemic impact of autoantibodies that attack the body in Lupus, it is not surprising that many individuals will have inflammation of internal organs or their protective covers (pleura= lung cover, pericardium=heart cover, etc). Individuals may also have arthritis that indicates damage of bones and joints via inflammation caused by autoantibodies."


Mouth Ulcers

Woman stands about a mirror in a bathroom with open mouth.

According to Dr. Khubchandani, "Oral ulcers and sores are a sign of active Lupus. However, oral sores are a very common problem (e.g. due to vitamin deficiency). If a person has repeated oral sores and they are red with a white halo, this should raise suspicion about Lupus."  

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather