How is Lupus Diagnosed & Treated? Learn About the Diagnostic Criteria for Lupus and Treatment Options

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Lupus affects the body’s immune system, causing it to function improperly. When a person suffers from this disease, their immune system begins damaging tissues of the body. This can cause serious and permanent damage if the condition is left untreated. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because of the wide range of symptoms it can produce.

How is Lupus Diagnosed?

Lupus can be a difficult disease to diagnose because it produces many symptoms. Because there are numerous symptoms associated with this disease, properly diagnosing this condition involves meeting a certain criteria. Lupus diagnostic criteria involves eleven symptoms. In order for a person to be diagnosed with Lupus, they must meet four of the eleven criteria’s. An examination and blood tests are also preformed to diagnose this condition.

Diagnostic Criteria

There are eleven symptoms that are used in the lupus diagnostic criteria. The eleven criteria’s are:

1. Abnormal blood work that produces positive results of an antinuclear antibody test (ANA).

2. A butterfly rash, known as malar rash, that appears on a persons checks.

3. The presence of certain antibodies and cells that result in an Immunologic disorder. This also includes a syphilis test that produces a false-positive result.

4. A rash of scaly, red patches, known as a Discoid rash, which results in scarring.

5. Blood disorders that take the form of anemia, leucopenia, lymphopenia, or thrombocytopenia.

6. A skin reaction that occurs when exposed to light called Photosensitivity.

7. An inflammation in the lining of the lungs or heart.

8. Open ulcers on the mouth that resemble sores.

9. Neurological disorders, such as psychosis and seizures.

10. Pain and inflammation of the joints, resulting in arthritis.

11. Kidney disorders that produce cast cells in the urine or excessive protein in the urine.

Antinuclear Antibody Test

When a person is suspected to have Lupus, an antinuclear antibody test (ANA) is often preformed. This is a test that screens for autoimmune diseases. The ANA tests are done with a sample of blood. The test measures the strength of a persons antibodies.

Treatment for Lupus

There are multiple treatments that are used for Lupus. Certain factors determine what treatments are used to treat this disease. The factors include a persons overall health, age, medical history, medications a person is taking, a person’s environment, and the severity of the disease. Treatment of Lupus includes frequent visits to the doctor to monitor the disease.

  • Cytoxan is a chemotherapy drug that is used to treat Lupus. It decreases the immune systems activity. This treatment is used to treat severe cases of Lupus.

  • CellCept is a drug used to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs. This drug is used for Lupus to suppress the body’s immune system. This treatment is used for severe cases of Lupus that have not shown to react to treatment with Cytoxan.

  • Imuran is another medication used to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs. This medication is used for severe cases of Lupus.

  • Planquenil is used to prevent Lupus flares. It is used for mild cases of the disease. Patients prescribed this drug often have Lupus symptoms that involve the skin and joints.

  • Rheumatrex is another chemotherapy medication used to treat Lupus. It suppresses the body’s immune system. It is commonly used to for non-life threatening forms of the disease.

  • Rituxan is a biologic agent used to treat Lupus. It is often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lymphoma. It is used to treat extremely serious forms of Lupus.

  • Steroid creams are used to treat the rashes caused by Lupus. This form of treatment is used for mild cases of Lupus. Other steroid medications are used to treat Lupus when the internal organs are threatened.

With proper treatment, Lupus patients can have a more positive outlook than patients that do not receive any treatment.


“Lupus Overview” February 1, 2007, “Lupus” June 5, 2008