A physical exam and medical
history are done to evaluate symptoms. The parts of the body that are examined,
and the questions that are asked, depend on which diseases your doctor suspects
or thinks are most likely.
Your doctor will use certain criteria to
distinguish lupus from other
autoimmune and rheumatic diseases. You may have all of
the lupus-related conditions at once, or you may experience them over a period
Classification criteria for systemic lupus
stiffness, pain in two or more joints (arthritis)
of the membranes surrounding the lungs (pleuritis) or heart (pericarditis)
Abnormalities in urine, such as increased protein or
clumps of red blood cells or kidney cells, called cell casts
Nervous system problems, such as seizures or
psychosis, without known cause
with the blood, such as reduced numbers of red blood cells (anemia), platelets,
or white blood cells
Laboratory tests showing increased
autoimmune activity (antibodies against normal
Positive antinuclear antibody (ANA) test
If you have at least 4 of these 11 conditions, you
likely will be classified as having lupus.
What To Think About
Lupus is hard to diagnose, because
its symptoms are similar to those of many other disorders. A few nonspecific
symptoms may persist for years before other problems develop.
classic lupus symptoms develop quickly, lupus can be more easily diagnosed. If
the symptoms are nonspecific or occur off and on, or if test results are
inconclusive, it may take months or even years to make a definite
Hahn BH (2012). Systemic lupus erythematosus. In DL Longo et al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2724–2735. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
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