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Selena Gomez Says This Lupus Symptom is One to Watch For

This is what lupus feels like.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

In 2017, Selena Gomez publicly opened up about getting a kidney transplant as a result of complications from her lupus. The 30-year-old has since become an advocate and strong voice for people living with the autoimmune disease, which can be debilitating. "Instead of the immune system fighting off things like infection and cancer, it turns against the individual and starts acting on their own organs," says Dr. Gary Gilkeson, professor of medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. Here's what Gomez experienced. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Chronic Fatigue

Woman lying on her bed with her eyes closed.

Gomez has spoken about chronic symptoms such as fatigue. "From the condition itself to the medications used to treat the disease, lupus can cause loneliness due to fear of infection, not being able to predict how you'll feel each day, and frustration from chronic pain and fatigue," she says. "It is important for people with lupus to look for help when needed and know you are not alone."


Hair Loss

young man in white t-shirt and jeans looking in mirror at thinning hair
Shutterstock / Maridav

Hair loss and facial rash are common signs of lupus. "But lupus can really span any involvement of the body, so from head to toe, it can cause hair loss, patchy hair loss, what we call it alopecia," says rheumatologist Emily Littlejohn, DO. "Can cause lupus on the face in terms of rashes or sun sensitivity. It can cause ulcers in the nose or in the mouth."


Joint Pain

Woman With Painful Hand

Joint pain is another symptom of lupus. "Certainly joint pain, patients come in and they have pain in the hands or the feet, the wrists, usually along with swelling and some redness," says Dr. Littlejohn. "And then of course, internal organ involvement, so patients can have lupus that affects the heart or the lungs."


Lupus Nephritis

At doctors appointment physician shows to patient shape of kidney with focus on hand with organ. Scene explaining patient causes and localization of diseases of kidney, stones, adrenal, urinary system - Image

Gomez needed a kidney transplant after developing lupus nephritis. "I've been speaking out about my situation to raise awareness about the disease," Gomez said. "After undergoing so many tests to monitor my kidneys my doctors told me I have lupus nephritis, one of those complications from lupus. They said I would be needing a kidney transplant."

"Lupus nephritis occurs when lupus autoantibodies affect structures in your kidneys that filter out waste," says the Mayo Clinic. "This causes kidney inflammation and may lead to blood in the urine, protein in the urine, high blood pressure, impaired kidney function or even kidney failure."


Brain Fog

Vertigo illness concept. Man hands on his head felling headache dizzy sense of spinning dizziness,a problem with the inner ear, brain, or sensory nerve pathway.

Brain fog is a common symptom of lupus. "Monday morning finds many of us feeling foggy, but 20 percent to 50 percent of people with lupus have a unique feeling of mental fogginess, including depression, memory problems, headaches, fatigue, confusion, and other neurologic symptoms," says Howard Smith, MD. "What causes confusion? Patients with lupus can be confused because of cognitive defects, short- or long-term memory problems, psychosis, severe depression or anxiety, dementia, an infection or fever or sometimes even because of medications."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan