This is Lupus Awareness Month and the Lupus Foundation of America is dedicated to giving caring support for people who suffer from this brutal disease. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, can affect any organ and has a large array of symptoms from mild to severe.
You can support those who suffer from this cruel and devastating disease by donating a car to the Lupus Foundation of America through Donate-a-car.
Some early symptoms of lupus include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Hair loss
- Rash, often butterfly shaped across cheeks and nose
- Swollen joints – in feet, legs, hands and/or around the eyes
- Kidney problems
- Thyroid problems
- Dry mouth and eyes
- Pain in chest on deep breathing
- Sun/Light sensitivity
- Abnormal blood clotting
You will find many of these symptoms also occur in other illnesses. Lupus has often been labeled as “the great imitator” due to its symptoms being similar to the signs of blood disorders, Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, thyroid issues, diabetes, and several lung, bone, muscle and heart disease. It’s important to know that lupus is not contagious and it’s not related to cancer, HIV or Aids. It typically strikes women that are child-bearing age, yet men, teenagers and children can develop lupus as well. Usually people develop this disease between the ages of fifteen and forty-four.
Getting a Diagnosis: Preparing For Your Doctor’s Appointment
Since the time you spend with your doctor is usually limited, it’s important to be prepared. Coming to your appointment prepared will also increase the likelihood of receiving an accurate diagnosis. Here are six ways to prepare.
1) Organize Your Medical History
- Keep a record of your symptoms.
- Prioritize the problems that concern you the most. If you have several problems, prepare a separate history for each of them and talk about them one at a time being clear and complete.
- Be detailed in how you feel, giving as much information as possible.
- Invite a family member or trusted friend to help you prepare and/or even come with you. Be sure you are unified in your story and history to avoid any disagreements in the exam office.
2) Be Ready For What Your Doctor Will Ask
Be prepared to answer direct questions about symptoms you are experiencing. Examples may include: when did it start? Where is the pain most severe? Is it worse in the morning, day, or evening? And so on.
3) List All Your Medications
Make a list of all the names and doses of the medications you are taking and when you started taking them. You can even bring them all to the appointment. Include vitamins, minerals and herbs in their original containers. This can help your doctors avoid potential drug interactions.
4) Bring Medical Records
Bring copies of the medical records you have from other doctors. This includes the results of previous scans, MRI’s and X-rays. You may have to authorize the release of your records to your new doctor. Be ready for this and ask if it’s not brought up.
5) Ask for a Verbal Summary of Instructions
After you have received follow up directions of all you should do, ask for a brief verbal summary to ensure all points are covered and any needed prescriptions are filled out. Have a notepad to take notes.
6) Questions to Ask During Your Appointment
- What can I expect in the future?
- Is further diagnostic testing needed?
- Under what circumstances should I notify the doctor?
- How long until I see the effects of the medication?
- Is there treatment available to modify the course?