Is It Lupus? Signs For One Of The Most Misdiagnosed Diseases

African American woman with braids in office

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that attacks the healthy tissues inside of your body. Unlike HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) where the immune system is underactive, lupus causes your immune system to be overactive.

When your immune system is working at the optimal level it produces antibodies that fight off germs, viruses and bacteria (foreign invaders). In autoimmune diseases such as lupus, your body is unable to detect these foreign invaders, and it creates autoantibodies that destroy your healthy tissue.

READ: Seal: A Lesson In Lupus

Lupus can affect any part of the body (organs, skin, joints, muscles, etc). People that suffer from lupus often experience pain, inflammation, and damage in various parts of their body. The flare-up nature of lupus leaves many feeling better for stretches and worse during periods of time as well.

This disease disproportionately affects women more than men. A University of Michigan study revealed that Black women are three times more likely to develop lupus than any other race.

This disease often affects women during the childbearing ages 15-44, but the onset for Black women can occur earlier according to studies. Erica Mangham, Western Region Development Director, of the Lupus Research Alliance (formerly named Alliance for Lupus Research), attests to this.

There has been some progress but we still have a long way to go to capture that data. We do know that out of the 1.5 million Americans diagnose 90% of those are women and African Americans are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with lupus.

Despite the shocking statistics, this disease is still relatively misunderstood and hard to diagnose amongst medical professionals. BlackDoctor.org has reported that lupus is one of the top diseases misdiagnosed in Blacks, with over half of Black women who suffer from the disease being misdiagnosed with something else after seeing the doctor several times.

Black women like Kimberly Dansby tell a stark tale of misdiagnosis. She was misdiagnosed for six years before getting a correct diagnosis. Her story in EBONY sheds light on what it’s like living with lupus while Black and female.

BlackDoctor.org wants our queens to be ahead of the pack, so I’ve compiled a list of seven ways to detect lupus.

1.) Muscle and Joint Pain

The Lupus Foundation of America says that more than half of the people who develop lupus, experience