Lupus diagnosis can be difficult because the symptoms associated with this condition can vary in different cases. The symptoms may also change over a period of time or overlap with other disorders. So a diagnosis for this condition is not given till the symptoms are seen to be obvious. Many people having lupus seem to go through fluctuations in the disease.
Lupus diagnosis can be done based on a clinical and also laboratory test criteria. Such criteria have been developed by the Rheumatology College in United States. These criteria allow the physicians to effectively diagnose and also determine lupus. If a person fulfils four among the list of 11 specifications then such a person may be deemed to be suffering from lupus.
The doctor may make a lupus diagnosis even if less than four specifications are fulfilled. Lupus may involve a face rash that has a butterfly like shape. Such a rash covers the Nose Bridge and spreads on the cheeks. This rash is called malar rash by doctors. The rash may also be scaly and is seen to be raised and consisting of scaly patches. Such a rash is called discoid rash. Exposure to sun may also result in a rash.
Lupus diagnosis also involves checking the patient for mouth sores that are often painless. Swelling in two and more joint areas along with joint pain can also be observed. Swelling may be observed in the area of lining around the person’s lungs or even in the heart region. Kidney disease may be observed. Patients may also experience neurological disorders that may include psychosis or seizures. The patient may have a low blood count including less platelet count, red blood count may be low and even the white cells count may be low.
A positive (affirmative) anti nuclear test for the presence of antibodies is used to make a lupus diagnosis. Such a positive test may indicate that the person has an autoimmune disease. Some other blood tests may be used to determine the presence of autoimmune disease. Lupus can be diagnosed with the positive double stranded anti DNA test or positive anti phospholipid antibody test, positive anti Sm test and false positive syphilis test. Anti nuclear antibody test is often used for lupus diagnosis and people who have this condition test positive for this test.
Lupus diagnosis can also be made with the help of a blood count and this includes test to determine the red blood cell levels along with white blood cells measurement and hemoglobin and platelets. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate may be used to determine if a person has lupus. This test finds out the rate with which the red blood cells float towards the bottom in a tube over a period of one hour. A higher rate is an indication of some infection.
Blood tests to find whether the liver and kidneys are functioning well may also be needed to be conducted. If the kidneys are affected by lupus then high protein levels within the urine may be seen. This can be determined with the help of urinalysis. Chest X-ray may be helpful in pin pointing any fluid seen in the lungs along with any inflammation. An ECG can also identify irregular rhythms in the heart.