Difficulties in Diagnosing Lupus

Author: Groshan Fabiola

Due to its polyvalent character and its intrinsic nature (lupus is triggered and augmented by severe immune system impairments), lupus is very difficult to diagnose accurately and promptly. In some cases, the complexity of lupus renders doctors unable to reveal its presence in time, the unspecific symptoms produced by the autoimmune disease often being misleading in the process of establishing the correct diagnosis. It may take months or even years to confirm the diagnosis received by patients with suspected lupus. The process of diagnosing lupus can be challenging even for the most experienced doctors. Patients can also influence the duration of the process of diagnosis, as doctors often rely on symptomatic reports apart from common laboratory analyses and physical examinations. The challenging process of diagnosing lupus can only be accelerated and facilitated by good doctor-patient cooperation.

Although at present there aren’t any specific tests that can reveal the presence of lupus, the existing laboratory tests can still help doctors decide upon the correct diagnosis. The most commonly used method of diagnosing patients with suspected lupus consists in looking for the presence of auto-antibodies in blood samples. The antinuclear antibody test (ANA test) is nowadays extensively used to detect the presence of auto-antibodies in patients with suspected lupus. However, the main problem with the ANA test is that it isn’t 100 percent accurate. For instance, a positive result for the ANA test may be influenced by factors such as past infections, chronic diseases or prolonged treatments with certain medications and not by the actual presence of lupus. In order to confirm the presumptive diagnosis, doctors have to rely on various other tests, such as anti-DNA, anti-RPN, anti-Ro, anti-La, or anti-Sm antibody tests.

When these previously mentioned blood tests along with clinical examinations and the patient’s symptomatic report are inconclusive for establishing the correct diagnosis, doctors may decide to perform biopsies of the skin or kidneys in order to reveal clear evidence of lupus. Additional tests often include the test for syphilis, as lupus sufferers commonly have a series of antibodies that generally occur in patients with syphilis. Thus, a falsely positive result for the syphilis test is also considered to be an indicator for lupus. Doctors have to rely on a wide range of tests in order to analyze the disease from different angles and find the accurate diagnosis. Without multiple medical investigations and elaborate research, lupus is virtually impossible to diagnose properly.

Once lupus has been appropriately diagnosed, doctors still depend on a series of tests in order to identify the actual type of lupus and its rate of progression. In order to gather the required medical information, doctors may choose to perform the following tests: complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry tests, erythrocyte sedimentation tests and urinalysis. After the results of these tests are properly interpreted, doctors can finally choose the appropriate course of medications. Due to the fact that the process of diagnosing lupus is time consuming, patients may have developed serious complications by the time they receive the appropriate medical treatment. Despite their limited relevancy, the existing procedures of diagnosis are the only means of revealing signs of lupus in patients. Medical scientists are hoping to find more efficient methods of diagnosing lupus in the near future, methods that can simplify the process of diagnosis and allow prompt medical intervention.

So if you want to find more about Lupus or more details about systemic lupus please follow this link http://www.lupus-guide.com

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/difficulties-in-diagnosing-lupus-73359.html

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So if you want to find more about Lupus or more details about systemic lupus please follow this link http://www.lupus-guide.com

8 thoughts on “Diagnosing Lupus

  1. sweetleka

    Diagnosing Lupus?
    I’ve been having some strange symptoms involving my immune system/lungs for a while now. There are members of my family with Lupus, but unfortunately I have no contact with them at this time. I’m going to see the doctor in about a week, but I would like to know if anyone knows of particular tests that I should ask to be done or particular symptoms/warning signs that make it pretty clear that I have it or something like it. Any help would be appreciated, I know I’m at the age that most people are diagnosed with it. PLEASE HELP. Thanx! 🙂

    1. mgnysgtcappo

      Ask for an ANA test. This is one indicator that a person has SLE. However, just having a positive ANA test doesn’t mean you have Lupus. You have to have four symptoms to be diagnosed.

      I’m confused why you mention that there are members of your family that have Lupus. I’m wondering how many actually have it and when/where they were diagnosed and what types of medications they take. You see Lupus has never been proven to be a genetic disease. Most of the research disproves a genetic link however environmental factors seem to play a part as well as some predetermined genetic factors. The chances you’ll have Lupus because someone in your family has it is the same chances that the general population will be diagnosed with Lupus. Remember the Lupus is more prevailant than breast cancer.

      As far as strange symptoms with your immune system can you be more specific? I’ve never really hear of a Lupus patient complaining of symptoms with their immune system. Usually, people present with joint pain, muscle weakness, rash, kidney/heart/brain issues. Lungs can be involved but usually only after a Lupus flare up has been occurring for a long while. I’d say that since you don’t complain of any joint pain that Lupus is highly unlikely.

      In any event, with an ANA test you’ll be able to rule out Lupus. If your ANA is positive, the doctor will order BUN, Creatine Clearance, a Chem-7 panel as well as a APS test. Bone density scans can also be taken if the disease has progressed and is causing arthritis. Organ biopsies are also indicated if the there appears to be organ involvement.

      Good Luck.

  2. dumbbrunnett88

    What blood tests can be used to diagnose Lupus?
    I am almost positive that I have lupus, as I have almost every one of the symptoms. My doctor also thinks that i may have lupus, but every time i get a blood test, everything is negative. What tests can be used to diagnose lupus? Because i want to find out for sure if this is what I have
    I was already diagnosed with fibromylagia but my symptoms go beyond just that. I have also been tested numerous times for Lyme disease and other rheumatic diseases, all coming out negative.

    1. eabena

      Raised ESR. Reduced white cells, reduced lymphocytes, and/or reduced platelets. Serum antinuclear antibodies (ANA) is positive in almost all cases. Double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) is specific to lupus but is only present in 50% cases. Anti-Ro and anti-La can also be detected. 25% patients have rheumatoid factor. Reduced serum complement levels during active disease.

  3. ProactiveMom

    Is it hard to diagnose Lupus in a teen with no positive labs?
    There’s a strong family history and symptoms (including butterfly rash) that have lasted almost 4 months. Rheumy says he ruled out Lupus.

  4. Ern

    Is lupus always diagnosed during a flare?
    My understanding is that when someone has lupus they go through periods of remission and flares. My question is- is it possible to diagnose lupus (using the blood tests commonly used) during a symptom free remission or is blood work only atypical during a flare?

  5. DJ

    What is now the lifespan of someone diagnosed with Lupus?
    When I was diagnosed with Lupus in the early 1990’s, I was told that my chances of living beyond ten years, was not good.

    1. simmychick

      I think that alot of doctors just don’t know alot about Lupus. It’s hard to diagnose, and essentially is what you are told you have when all other diseases are ruled out in some cases.

      The biggest danger of Lupus is organ failure, especially kidney failure. With advances in diyalsis and drug therapy for many of the symptoms and conditions of Lupus, most people that are diagnosed with Lupus live full long lives.

      If you are feeling uneasy about your condition or are having health issues that need to be addressed, see a rheumatologist, a nephrologist and an endrocrinologist for treatments that will help alleviate your symptoms and help you in leader a fuller more active life.

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