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Diagnosis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
SLE can be hard to diagnose because:
- Symptoms are like many other health problems
- There is no test
- Each person with SLE may have different signs of it
It may be suspected if a person has at least four of these signs:
- Butterfly rash over the cheeks and nose—a key sign
- Rashes that can lead to scarring
- Skin that gets burned easy in the sun
- Sores in the mouth
- Joint swelling, pain, and warmth
- Inflammation of the lining of the heart
- Seizures or psychosis
Changes in the blood and kidneys may be found through:
SLE can cause changes in the blood. They differ from person to person, but may be:
- Having antinuclear antibodies (ANA) that attack the body's cells
- Signs of inflammation
- Unusual findings from a blood cell measurement
- Signs of substances that are normally filtered by the kidneys
Proteins, blood, or other substances in the urine may point to a change in kidney function.
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.
How is lupus diagnosed? Lupus Foundation of America website. Available at: http://www.lupus.org/answers/entry/diagnosing-lupus. Accessed September 4, 2018.
Lupus. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Lupus/default.asp. Updated June 30, 2016. Accessed August 31, 2018.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115873/Systemic-lupus-erythematosus-SLE . Updated July 20, 2018. Accessed August 31, 2018.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal%5Fand%5Fconnective%5Ftissue%5Fdisorders/autoimmune%5Frheumatic%5Fdisorders/systemic%5Flupus%5Ferythematosus%5Fsle.html. Updated February 2018. Accessed August 31, 2018.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
- Review Date: 11/2021
- Update Date: 03/22/2022