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Is it Lupus? Rheumatoid Arthritis? How to Tell the Difference

How can you tell if you have lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or something else? The best way is to learn the defining symptoms of each disease, and then carefully compare them to your own symptoms. Then, you’ll have a greater position of knowledge when you visit the doctor and can insist on getting certain tests to get a firm diagnosis.

The symptoms of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other degenerative joint diseases often mimic each other, and are very similar. It’s not unusual to wonder if you have one, and then have it turn out to be the other. Here are 7 top lupus symptoms as outlined by the American College of Rheumatology.

1.  A butterfly-shaped rash that covers your face on your nose and cheeks.
2.  Sun rashes, from spending time in direct sunlight.
3.  Pain and swelling in at least two joints.
4.  Kidney dysfunction
5.  Swelling around heart or lungs.
6.  A low red or white blood cell count.
7.  A positive anitnuclear antibody test (a positive result isn’t a definite diagnosis of lupus, but it indicates that it COULD be present, and that more testing is needed.

On the other hand, the top symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

1.  Mild fever, particularly at night.
2.  Swelling and inflammation in one or more joints that lasts more than a couple of weeks.
3. Stiffness in the swollen joints, particularly in the mornings.
4.  Fatigue
5.  A positive rheumatoid factor test. However, approximately 10 to 15% of people with rheumatoid arthritis test negative for the rheumatoid factor.

While only a doctor can tell you for sure if it’s lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or both, these symptom guidelines can help you get a better idea of what you may have. This is important knowledge to have when you go to the doctor, so you can guide him in the right direction of testing, and get the treatment you need sooner in order to enjoy a better quality of life.

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