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Lupus Is Not a Simple Disease

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Updated October 27, 2013

5 of 9

Part 5 of 9 - How Is Lupus Diagnosed?

Diagnosing lupus may involve:

  • Medical history: Disclose symptoms and other problems to your doctor.
  • Complete physical exam: Doctors will look for rashes and other physical signs of lupus.
  • Laboratory testing of blood and urine: Blood and urine samples often show if your immune system is overactive, or other abnormalities.
  • Skin or kidney biopsy: Tissue that is removed by biopsy is examined under a microscope. Skin or kidney tissue examined in this way can show signs of an autoimmune disease.

It is important that you explain your symptoms fully. Your history, physical examination, and the results of laboratory tests help your doctor formulate a diagnosis. As you track your symptoms, take note of:

  • When you experience them?
  • When you first noticed them?
  • How often do they occur?
  • Recent dates?

A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases that affect the joints and muscles. You may want to ask your regular doctor for a referral to a rheumatologist. In some cases, a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in treating diseases affecting the skin, may be involved in diagnosis and treatment. No single test can show that you have lupus. Your doctor may have to run several tests and study your medical history. It may take time for the doctor to diagnose lupus.

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