I had always been an athletic, healthy person, but in my late 30s my body
started sending signals that something was wrong. I was tired all the time. I
had no energy. I even started losing my hair.
When I went to my doctor, the staff ran blood tests, but nothing ever
pointed to a specific diagnosis. I lost weight. I couldn't keep food
down. I developed a butterfly-shaped rash on my face. I saw other doctors; they
thought it was all in my head, and, for a time, they didn't believe I was
A physical examination 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 considers 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 involving 2 or more joints (arthritis)
of the membranes surrounding the lungs (pleuritis) or heart (pericarditis)
Abnormalities in urine, such as increased protein in the urine or
clumps of red blood cells or kidney cells, called cell casts, in the
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 indicating 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
Petri MA (2005). Systemic lupus erythematosus:
Clinical aspects. In WJ Koopman, LW Moreland, eds., Arthritis and Allied Conditions: A Textbook of Rheumatology, 15th ed., vol. 2,
pp.1473-1496. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
May 7, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 07, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this