Consulting A Doctor About A Lupus Diagnosis

Due to its diverse and changing symptoms, the road to a lupus diagnosis can be frustrating and overwhelming. Knowing where to begin can make the process easier and quicker.

Who Do I Ask About My Lupus Diagnosis?

If you believe you have lupus, begin by discussing your symptoms with your general practitioner. She will begin the process of elimination to determine whether your symptoms are related to the lupus disease.

Based on your symptoms, your doctor may decide to bring in specialists to help with your case. These include but are not limited to:

  • Cardiologists: doctors for heart and blood vessel problems
  • Clinical immunologists: doctors for immune system disorders
  • Dermatologists: doctors for skin diseases
  • Endocrinologists: doctors for problems with glands and hormones
  • Hematologists: doctors for blood disorders
  • Nephrologists: doctors for kidney disease
  • Neurologists: doctors for problems with the nervous system, like seizures
  • Rheumatologists: doctors for joint pain and arthritis.

How Is Lupus Diagnosed?

No single test exists yet for lupus diagnosis. Instead, a series of tests and the process of elimination rules out other possible causes for your symptoms. This process can take months to years and will take into consideration many factors.

  • Blood and urine tests: An antinuclear antibody (ANA) test can reveal if your body is likely to produce autoantibodies of lupus, but healthy people may also test positive.
  • Family and personal medical history: This can be useful in ruling out other possible causes for symptoms.
  • Skin and kidney biopsies: Microscopic examination of tissue can reveal signs of an autoimmune disease.
  • Syphilis tests: Lupus antibodies can return a false positive for syphilis. A positive test does not mean the patient also has syphilis.

What Can I Do To Help the Process Of My Lupus Diagnosis?

A lupus diagnosis takes time and patience, but a few preparatory actions can make the process smoother.

  • Converse frequently and openly with your doctor about your concerns.
  • Join a support group for emotional support.
  • Keep a journal detailing length and intensity of symptoms as well as diet, exercise, and medicine to aid your doctor in determining the best course of treatment for you and your symptoms.

You may also find it useful to familiarize yourself with treatments for lupus in order to discuss with your doctor what your best options are after diagnosis.