Understanding How Lupus Is Diagnosed

Understanding How Lupus Is Diagnosed

Imagine having a set of odd, sometimes painful symptoms that come and go, but that also linger for periods of time. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that, to this day, is the source of many unanswered questions. Diagnosing lupus is a challenge, even for experienced professionals. Jeffrey Miller, MD of Osteoporosis and Rheumatology Center of Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida has worked with a number of patients living with lupus, and offers treatment. 

Lupus is thought to have been first recognized by a physician in thirteenth-century Europe. The physician, Rogerius, described facial lesions that reminded him of a wolf’s bite, hence the name of the condition, lupus. As medical research continued, the difficulty of diagnosing lupus became apparent due to so many of lupus’ symptoms mimicking symptoms of other chronic conditions. 

What is lupus?

There is still much we do not know about lupus. What we do know is that it is an autoimmune disease that attacks healthy tissues, including your joints, organs, and blood cells. No two cases of lupus are exactly alike, nor do all cases present the same symptoms at the same time. The infamous facial rash of lupus can be an indicator, but doesn’t appear in everyone. 

A lupus flare-up can be triggered by sunlight, infections, and even medication. Lupus occurs more often in women than it does in men, and tends to affect people of color more often than white people. Lupus can harm your lungs, heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. It can even affect your brain and nervous system.

Complications of lupus can be severe, and include a slight elevation in risk for certain cancers, bone loss, and infection. Pregnant women have an increased risk of miscarriage and high blood pressure.   

What are the symptoms of lupus?

Over 16,000 new cases of lupus are diagnosed each year. Many of the symptoms include:

Dry eyes, joint pain, and skin lesions are also symptoms of lupus. These symptoms can occur on any part of the body, though the most vulnerable body parts that can be affected by lupus are your internal organs, particularly your brain and kidneys. Talk to your doctor if you’ve had an ongoing fever, fatigue, aching, or rash.  

How is lupus treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for lupus. Autoimmune diseases are started by the body, and we still are not sure what would cause the body to attack itself. While there is no cure, lupus symptoms can be and are treated successfully every day. 

Part of your treatment is taking care of yourself — avoiding prolonged and direct sun exposure, getting more exercise, and eating a balanced diet will help you with your lupus symptoms. Dr. Miller often recommends over-the-counter medication to calm inflammation and a range of other medicinal therapies that will help you manage your symptoms.  

The symptoms of lupus make it difficult to diagnose, so consulting an experienced provider of lupus care is essential to your well-being. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of lupus, call us today at 813-336-3793 for an appointment.

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