Lupus - Diagnosis

Lupus is usually difficult to diagnose, especially since many of its symptoms are similar to other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (see arthritis entry) and multiple sclerosis (see multiple sclerosis entry). There is no one test that can be used to diagnose the disease. Blood tests can be used to look for certain kinds of antibodies. The most dependable of these tests may be correct 70 percent to 80 percent of the time.

Many doctors rely on a standard created by the American Rheumatism Association to diagnose lupus. According to this standard, a patient has to have four of eleven symptoms to be diagnosed with lupus. Those symptoms are:

  • Butterfly rash, a distinctive type of facial rash
  • Discoid rash, another distinctive type of facial rash
  • Unusual sensitivity to light
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation of the lining of the lungs or the lining around the heart
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures or psychosis
  • Low numbers of red blood cells or certain types of white blood cells
  • The presence of certain kinds of immune cells
  • The presence of certain kinds of antibodies

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