National Lupus Awareness Month: Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome

May is National Lupus Awareness Month, so we have compiled a roundup of our stories that not only discuss lupus but also address related conditions such as Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome. The following articles compare lupus with other conditions, explain how lupus may be mistaken for other conditions, and explore the possible overlap between lupus and other diseases.

You may have heard about lupus after a famous celebrity recently came out to discuss her struggles with it, but maybe you are still unsure about what it is. Well, the posts below will help give you a better understanding of lupus – and what better time than during the National Lupus Awareness Month?

Lyme disease vs. lupus, differences in symptoms, causes, and treatment optionsLyme disease vs. lupus, differences in symptoms, causes, and treatment options


Lyme disease and lupus both start with the letter L, and that’s not the only aspect they share. In fact, many Lyme disease symptoms may present themselves as lupus and vice versa. That’s why it’s important to be aware of their distinct differences in order to properly treat either condition.

Lyme disease is caused by a tick bite, which transmits bacteria causing infection. Lupus, on the other hand, is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune condition, meaning that the immune system attacks itself and other organs in the body.
In both Lyme disease and lupus, a distinctive rash can appear and both conditions can result in pain as well. Here is a more detailed outline of Lyme disease and lupus to help you distinguish between the two.

Lyme disease and lupus share many symptoms, such as atrioventricular block, which can present itself as heart palpitations. Other shared symptoms include joint pain, fever, fatigue, headache, rashes, and central nervous system complications.

Both conditions can affect the knees. Lyme disease can also cause pain in larger joints, while lupus affects the smaller ones. Arthritis can also be seen in both Lyme disease and lupus, leading to joint pain, too.

Fever occurs mainly in the early stages of Lyme disease and during lupus flares. Fatigue, too, is happening in both diseases, but in Lyme disease it may go away with appropriate treatment, and in lupus it is more frequent and can affect up to 90 percent of patients. Continue reading…

Fibromyalgia may be confused with rheumatoid arthritis or lupusFibromyalgia may be confused with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus

Fibromyalgia is a condition that may be easily confused with other health issues, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. For the latest study, researchers had participants complete the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) and the Symptom Impact Questionnaire (SIQ). The questionnaires were used to determine specific features that could outline differences between fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.

Results from both questionnaires revealed the biggest differences between the three conditions involved ‘tenderness to touch,’ ‘difficulty cleaning floors,’ and ‘discomfort in sitting for 45 minutes.’ Other differences included mid-lower back pain, tenderness to touch, neck pain, hand pain, arm pain, and outer lower back pain.

The researchers concluded that these areas of pain should be combined for a new questionnaire to better diagnose and recognize fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. Continue reading…

Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus overlapSjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus overlap

Inflammatory systemic autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Sjögren’s syndrome, have all been found to overlap. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to produce antibodies that cause widespread inflammation all over the body which can result in tissue damage. Any part of the body, including the skin, joints, brain, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and other internal organs, can be affected by lupus.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes arthritis. Once again, the immune system creates antibodies that result in inflammation in and around the joints. Joints then become quite painful, and mobility may be compromised.
Lastly, Sjögren’s syndrome is inflammation of the exocrine glands – glands that expel substances like sweat or mucus. Sjögren’s syndrome can cause dry mouth, dry eyes, and even digestion issues.

Although it may seem like the obvious overlap that all three conditions are autoimmune diseases, researchers have found a specific gene linking all three together. Continue reading…

Lupus-related pregnancy risks in women identified by monitoring biomarkers in maternal bloodLupus-related pregnancy risks in women identified by monitoring biomarkers in maternal blood

Today is World Lupus Day, and the latest research on lupus uncovered that lupus-related pregnancy risks in women can be identified by monitoring biomarkers in maternal blood. Pregnant women with lupus are at a higher risk of developing pregnancy complications including preeclampsia, placental insufficiency, fetal death, miscarriage, and other complications. The researchers looked at specific biomarkers in maternal blood during early pregnancy and were able to successfully predict patients who are at a higher risk to experience pregnancy complications along with identifying those who will have a normal pregnancy course. By effectively distinguishing high-risk patients, doctors would be able to counsel and manage high-risk patients early on.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that commonly affects women during their childbearing years. In lupus, the immune system wrongfully attacks its own organs, causing damage.

Lead investigator Jane E. Salmon said, “Given that over 20 percent of pregnant women with lupus APL [antiphospholipid antibodies] experience adverse pregnancy outcomes, the ability to identify patients early in pregnancy, who are destined for poor outcomes, would significantly impact care of this high-risk population.”

The researchers conducted their study using data from the PROMISSE (Predictors of pRegnancy Outcome: bioMarker In antiphospholipid antibody Syndrome and Systemic lupus Erythematosus) study. The researchers uncovered biomarkers that can be used to assess mothers in early pregnancy. Within 12 to 15 weeks of pregnancy, changes in biomarkers occur, which can signal complications. Continue reading…

In lupus, white blood cells unable to regulate inflammation and regulating cells cause damageIn lupus, white blood cells unable to regulate inflammation and regulating cells cause damage

In lupus, white blood cells lose their ability to regulate inflammation and regulating cells then cause damage. The mitochondria – a cell’s powerhouse – were studied to determine how they may lead to lupus-like inflammation. Certain white blood cells in lupus and other inflammatory disorders have been found to increase the amounts of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. The researchers noted, “Because mitochondria are a potent source of reactive oxygen species, and because mitochondrial DNA has been implicated recently in inflammatory responses … we wanted to examine their role in this autoimmune disorder.”


There is no cure for lupus currently and it commonly affects women more than men.

Neutrophils are white blood cells that are normally responsible for catching pathogens, but in autoimmune disorders they are suspected to play a different role. In autoimmune disorders, germs and other pathogens provoke neutrophils to create a mesh outside themselves to capture offenders.

This reaction can cause organ damage in lupus, as neutrophil extracellular traps, or NETs, can cause cell death. This phenomenon has been seen in many other autoimmune disorders. In mouse models, medications to stop NETosis – cell death by NET – improve lupus along with preventing atherosclerosis and blood clotting.
Unfortunately, it is still unclear as to how these mesh nets are created and how germs provoke inflammation when there is no known infection. Continue reading…