Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition in which the body attacks itself in a variety of ways, leading to a wide array of different symptoms and signs of the disease. Due to the great variability of disease manifestation from person to person, as well as the change in symptoms over time, lupus can be difficult to diagnose. However, there are certain clinical and laboratory symptoms that your doctor
can look for, which can help make an accurate diagnosis.
People with lupus may experience a characteristic red rash on their cheeks and nose (a malar rash) or other characteristic rashes brought out by sun exposure. They may experience ulcers in the mouth, inflammation of joints and the membranes surrounding organs such as the heart and lungs. Lupus can also cause inflammation of the kidney, leading to the presence of protein and red blood cells in the urine. Neurologic disorders such as headaches or changes in mental status/mood can also occur. Blood tests can be used to look at cell counts, as lupus can cause low red and white cell numbers as well as low platelets. Finally, there are certain auto-antibodies (such as ANA) that can be tested for in the blood, which are often seen in lupus but can be seen in a variety of other conditions as well.
If you have any concerns at all about your health, you should discuss them with your primary care doctor
. If there is concern about lupus, then a referral to a rheumatologist
can be made to help confirm the diagnosis by clinical and laboratory means.