Diagnosing lupus

What can be done to ensure that lupus is diagnosed earlier rather than later?

Dr. Cynthia Aranow is co-director of the Clinical Trials Unit of the Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Disease at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, NY. Dr. Aranow’s current research focuses on the brain’s involvement in lupus.

See all of Cynthia Aranow, MD's answers.

Lupus is a disease that is known for being difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are different from person to person, they mimic the symptoms of many other diseases, and they can come and go. It can sometimes take several years to receive an official diagnosis. To diagnose lupus as early as possible, there are three important things you can do:

Educate yourself about lupus. Learn as much as you can about the signs and symptoms of lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America has many online resources that can help. Our "I Might Have Lupus" section is a great place to look  for answers to frequently asked questions about diagnosis.

Communicate with your doctor. Tell him or her about any symptoms you might be experiencing and any family history of lupus or other autoimmune diseases. Try keeping track of your symptoms so that your doctor can see how they change over time.

See a rheumatologist. If you have learned about lupus and talked to your primary care doctor, and you still think lupus is a possibility, make an appointment to see a rheumatologist. He or she can help determine whether you have lupus.

Medically reviewed on December 03, 2013

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