Before I begin, I must stress that many autoimmune diseases overlap or have many of the same symptoms and complications, it's not easy to pin point the exact disease, but focusing on which symptoms are worse or potentially damaging is the best course of action......
I'm 26 and have these same exact symptoms. I was just diagnosed with sarcoidosis, which is an autoimmune disease that begins by attacking the lungs. It causes inflammation and small benign growths called granulomas, and can attack the brain, heart kidneys and liver, but usually just the lungs. It seems to be common with women in their 20s, but so can lupus. Sometimes the disease goes into spontaneous remission without treatment, but treatment can mitigate possible lung damage, especially if caught early.
I went to the ER recently for chest pain and difficulty breathing. They claimed they didn't find anything and sent me off. The next day my doctor called and said they indeed found something, but that they didn't know what it was. A CT scan revealed granulomas in my chest and on my lymph nodes, which were most likely caused by scarcoidosis inflammation in the chest. Granulomas are formed from inflammation, and are clusters of cells ranging from autoimmune cells to bacteria and fungi. My doctor told me one of my granulomas was a fungus ball in my lung, and I have to have a biopsy of it to make 100% sure.
She said I also had ankylosing spondilitis which causes inflammation in the spine, shoulder joints and hip joints. This can also cause some swelling in the chest and cause difficulty breathing, but is easily treated with medication. It isn't deadly. I'm guessing that the biggest cause of my chest symptoms is from the fungus infection. It is something that can happen, not just in sarcoidosis, but in other autoimmune diseases. If such granulomas are found to be an infection, the treatment is antifungals and antibiotics. Chest x-rays are usually the first test to find them in the chest.
You noted that your daughter was diagnosed with pericarditis. How did they find this? If they have done a CT scan or x-ray, she probably doesn't have granulomas and is suffering from only the pericarditis. Corticosteroids should clear it up.
I have not been diagnosed with pericarditis, although I'm scared I have it in addition to my other chest symptoms. My doctor seems sure it's the infection causing the symptoms.
It's possible you daughter does indeed have lupus, but know that many autoimmune diseases overlap and it might not be sarcoidosis either, but you might want to make sure. I don't want to frighten you, but you want to ask your doctor about
any concerns you have, any additional tests she might need or feels she needs and what to expect in the future.
She needs more than anything, lots of rest. This should help a lot of her symptoms. It helps mine. You also want to make sure she has no infections. She will be ok. These diseases cause many of the same problems, so whatever issue arises, treating the problem is the best course of action. Also remind her to know her physical limits and to take each day step at a time. If she's not feeling well, she must get rest, even if it means calling into work or missing out on social events. Eating healthy and moderate exercise helps as well.
I can't say if her symptoms are severe, but they don't seem much different than mine and many of the people on this site, and I'm personally more worried about
infection than just inflammation, but I'm confident that I will be fine, and that she will be also. As long as she's getting treated and takes care of herself, she will be just fine. My sister works with a girl with lupus, and she still lives a happy life. It can get rough sometimes, but she needs to be strong and relax. I hope this helps.
She's lucky to have parents like you.
Post Edited (pink blobs) : 3/5/2011 1:36:19 PM (GMT-7)