Being Diagnosed with Lupus
Diagnosing lupus, systemic lupus erythematosus, can be difficult because it can take months or years to correctly define the symptoms. Lupus symptoms come and go. They vary in severity. Adding to this difficulty is the fact that by the time the medical professional is able to diagnosis lupus, new symptoms may appear. Lupus symptoms mimic rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis symptoms. Before lupus became to be better understood, the diagnosis used to be: "it's all in your head."
What is needed when diagnosing lupus?
To help the diagnosis process, it's important for the patient to log her symptoms and provide a detailed family history for the medical professional to make his determination. This information, combined with a physical examination and laboratory test results, will assist in the process to narrow the diagnosis of lupus.
What symptoms are considered when being diagnosed with lupus?
There are 11 symptoms that are discussed when being diagnosed with lupus. In order for a person to be diagnosed with lupus, she only needs to experience four of the 11 defined symptoms. It should be noted these symptoms must occur simultaneously before a diagnosis of lupus can be determined. What's so difficult in diagnosing lupus is that some patients may actually never experience four of these symptoms. See if these symptoms describe you:
- Antinuclear antibody: positive test for ANA in the absence of drugs to induce it.
- Discoid rash. This rash is made up of red raised patches.
- Hematologic disorders include anemia, the following low white blood count disorders such as leukopenia and lymphonenia, and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count).
- Immunologic disorder: this is when abnormal immune tests falsely identify positive blood test for anticardiolipin antibodies, lupus anticoagulant, a positive LE prep test, or syphilis.
- Malar rash. This butterfly-shaped rash appears over the cheeks and nose.
- Neurologic disorder that involves convulsions, metabolic upsets, psychosis, or seizures.
- Nonerosive arthritis (where bones around the affected joint aren't destroyed) that involves two or more joints with effusion, swelling, and tenderness.
- Oral ulcers, usually painless, appear in the nose or mouth.
- Photosensitivity results in increased skin rashes.
- Renal (kidney) disorder that is evidenced by excessive protein in the urine.
- Serositis, inflammation of the lining of the heart or lungs, occurs.
An alarming fact about being diagnosed with lupus
It needs to be noted that lupus patients are at greater risk for cancer. The most prevalent cancers are breast cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma (blood-related cancers). It's believed this susceptibility is the result of an altered or changed immune system. Women who are diagnosed with lupus need to be aware that they have an increased risk for heart disease. These women are advised to quit smoking, maintain a healthy blood pressure level, and control their weight. The outlook for being diagnosed with lupus The outlook for lupus patients improves year after year. Through research, we now understand our immune system better. This newfound knowledge is being used to find more options for lupus patients. Explore your options. Research available resources. Take advantage of programs, supplements, and a healthier lifestyle to live a full life after being diagnosed with lupus.