What is Lupus


Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system mistakes the body's own tissues as foreign invaders and attacks them. Some people with lupus suffer only minor inconvenience. Others suffer significant lifelong disability.

Lupus affects people of African, Asian, or Native American descent two to three times as often as it affects whites. Nine out of 10 people with lupus are women. The disease usually strikes between age 15 and 44, although it can occur in older individuals.

There are two kinds of lupus:

· Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE)

· Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)



  • · Fatigue and fever
  • · Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
  • · Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose
  • · Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
  • · Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud's phenomenon)
  • · Shortness of breath
  • · Chest pain
  • · Dry eyes Headaches, confusion and memory loss.

Common Questions for your General Doctor


1. What do you think is causing my problem?

2. Is there more than one condition (disease) that could be causing my problem?

3. What tests will you do to diagnose the problem and which of the conditions is present?

4. How good are the tests for diagnosing the problem and the conditions?

5. How safe are the tests?

6. What is the likely course of this condition? What is the long-term outlook with and without treatment?

7. What are my treatment options? How effective is each treatment option?

8. What are the benefits versus risks of each treatment option?

9. If my symptoms worsen, what should I do on my own? When should I contact you?

10. Are you aware of each of the medications that I am taking? Can they adversely interact with the medications you are prescribing for me?

11. Should we monitor for side effects of the medications that you are prescribing or for their interactions with other medications I am taking?

Questions for your Rheumatologist


1. Could any medications I’m taking be triggering my lupus symptoms?

2. Could another condition be causing my lupus symptoms?

3. Has the disease already damaged my kidneys or other organs?

4. Should I have a bone density test?

5. Should I be taking calcium or other supplements?

6. What are the possible side effects of my lupus drugs?

7. How long will I need to take these lupus drugs?

8. Is it safe for me to become pregnant if I have lupus? Are my lupus medications safe to take while I’m pregnant?

9. How often should I have checkups?

10. What lifestyle changes do you recommend?

How is Lupus Diagnosed?


Diagnosing lupus is difficult because the signs and symptoms vary considerably from person to person and often overlap with many other diseases.

A combination of blood and urine tests, assessing the signs and symptoms, and a physical examination are used to diagnose lupus.

Here are the most common tests for lupus:

  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test – The body uses antibodies to fend off foreign substances, and when they’re made to fight its own tissues, it can indicate an autoimmune disease such as lupus. 95% of patients with lupus will have a positive ANA test result. But having a positive ANA test does not necessarily mean you have lupus, so several other criteria must be used.
  • Blood test – A complete blood count (CBC) measures the number of red and white blood cells, as well as the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. Results may indicate anemia or a low white blood cell count, both of which are common in lupus.
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate – This blood test determines the rate at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a tube. A faster than normal rate may indicate a systemic disease, such as lupus.
  • Echocardiogram (ECG) – If your doctor suspects lupus is attacking your heart, an ECG may be helpful to detect issues with the valves or other parts of the heart.
  • Urinalysis – An examination of a urine sample may show an increased protein level or red blood cells, which can occur if lupus has affected your kidneys.
  • Chest X-ray – If your doctor suspects lupus is attacking your lungs, a chest X-ray may be helpful to reveal inflammation or other abnormalities of the lungs.
  • Kidney biopsy Lupus can affect the kidneys in many different ways, so a small biopsy may be necessary to determine if or how the kidneys are affected.

As you can see, diagnosing lupus isn’t a simple process. It requires an in-depth analysis of multiple factors.