The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is first suspected on the basis of symptoms, especially if you are a young woman. A firm diagnosis of SLE is somewhat complicated and will require a great deal of information and the consultation of a specialist. This is because SLE has no identifiable cause and no single definitive test. Also, since SLE can affect many systems in the body, it does not show the same signs and symptoms in everyone.
The American College of Rheumatology has a set of criteria to help make an accurate diagnosis. This diagnosis requires that you have at least four of the following:
Guidelines for referral and management of systemic lupus erythematosus in adults. American College of Rheumatology Ad Hoc Committee on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Guidelines. Arthritis Rheum. 1999;42(9):1785-1796.
Handout on health: Systemic lupus erythematosus. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lupus/default.asp. Updated August 2011. Accessed June 28, 2013.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated June 13, 2013. Accessed June 28, 2013.
Understanding lupus. Lupus Foundation of America website. Available at: http://www.lupus.org/webmodules/webarticlesnet/templates/new_learnunderstanding.aspx?articleid=2231&zoneid=523. Accessed June 28, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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