Lupus | Diagnosis & Tests


How do I know if I have lupus?

Lupus can be difficult to diagnose. It is different for every person who has it. Symptoms of lupus can come and go, and can affect different parts of the body. There is no one test to diagnose lupus. However, there are a number of symptoms that, grouped together, can help your doctor decide if you should have more medical tests.

Your doctor may want to order blood and urine tests:

  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test. This test checks for antibodies to the nucleus of your cells. A positive result shows that your immune system is making antibodies against your cells. This may not mean that you have lupus, but your doctor may recommend you see a specialist for more testing.
  • Complete blood count. The numbers of red cells, white cells and platelets are commonly affected in people who have lupus. You may be checked for anemia or the presence of certain proteins in the blood.
  • Syphilis test. A false-positive test result showing the presence of certain antibodies (proteins in the blood) can be a sign of lupus.
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) tests. Results from these tests are used to tell if there is inflammation (swelling) in the body.
  • Urinalysis. Extra protein in the urine may show up in a lab test if lupus affects your kidneys.

Blood tests can also show how well your kidneys and liver are working, and if these organs have been affected by lupus. Your doctor may also recommend a chest x-ray because lupus can sometimes cause swelling in the lungs and heart. An electrocardiogram test (ECG) checks for an irregular heart beat or any damage to the heart that may have been caused by lupus.

Written by editorial staff.

American Academy of Family Physicians

Created: 04/10