A physical exam for suspected lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE) includes a thorough check of your skin, joints, lungs and breathing, nervous system, and heart.
The medical history includes questions about:
A physical exam and medical history are done to evaluate symptoms. The parts of the body that are examined, and the questions that are asked, depend on which diseases your doctor suspects or thinks are most likely.
Your doctor will use certain criteria to distinguish lupus from other autoimmune and rheumatic diseases. You may have all of the lupus-related conditions at once, or you may experience them over a period of time.
If you have at least 4 of these 11 conditions, you likely will be classified as having lupus.
Lupus is hard to diagnose, because its symptoms are similar to those of many other disorders. A few nonspecific symptoms may persist for years before other problems develop.
When classic lupus symptoms develop quickly, lupus can be more easily diagnosed. If the symptoms are nonspecific or occur off and on, or if test results are inconclusive, it may take months or even years to make a definite diagnosis.
Last Revised: May 10, 2012
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