Kim Kardashian West got some tough news recently after seeing a doctor for exhaustion, nausea and swollen hands.
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In what played out on Sunday’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” the reality star and aspiring lawyer got some blood work done and got a positive test for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis antibodies.
As she broke down, the doctor warned her though that a false positive is sometimes a possibility, so they scheduled a follow up exam. Those results will presumably be shown later in this season.
On Twitter, Kardashian West opened up about the “rollercoaster of emotions” leading into getting the results.
“Thinking about the pain in my hands and what it could be is really scary and can get you in a scary head space. I was so anxious to just figure out what was wrong #KUWTK,” she added.
The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans have Lupus and 90% are women
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, where your own body’s antibodies are directed against cells in many different locations, leading to inflammation in the tissues and organs. It can affect the heart, kidneys, bones and joints, skin, eyes and more, said Dr. Kristen Kendrick, a resident physician with the ABC News Medical Unit.
Kendrick added that symptoms vary but can include joint pain or swelling, body aches, gastrointestinal complaints such as stomach pain and nausea, skin rashes or even ulcers in the mouth. Fatigue is the most common complaint occurring among Lupus patients.
Rheumatoid arthritis is also an autoimmune disease and has similar symptoms like fatigue or fever, but must include pain and stiffness in multiple joints.
There are a lot of rheumatoid antibodies and some are really sensitive, which can lead to false-positives, Kendrick said.
A tough diagnosis
As highlighted in the episode and by Kendrick, diagnosing autoimmune diseases can be tough and usually requires more testing after the first antibody tests to narrow down the correct disease. Sometimes, diagnosis may even require a tissue biopsy of an affected organ.
She added that there is currently no single, gold-standard test for Lupus.
“We typically use one of two scoring criteria that considers symptoms, physical findings and multiple different antibodies all together,” Kendrick said about lupus, also called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Although females are affected more with rheumatoid arthritis, the condition is similar to lupus in that it’s “usually diagnosed in older people and has some different risk factors, such as smoking.” Both diseases do have an association with family history of autoimmune disease.
Kendrick also notes that it’s important to remember the symptoms Kardashian West describes could be present with many different illnesses, so it’s important to have a full evaluation by a health care provider that includes discussing your family history and a thorough physical exam.
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