Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Questions and Answers about the Disease

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Questions and Answers about the Disease

Article excerpt

Q: What is it?

A: Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, blood, kidneys, lungs, heart and nervous system. It is not contagious. There are three forms of lupus, one characterized by a skin rash only and one that develops after the use of certain drugs. But by far the most common form is SLE: systemic lupus erythematosus.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: The signs of systemic lupus differ from one person to another. Common symptoms include painful or swollen joints, muscle aches, unexplained fever, prolonged or extreme fatigue, hair loss, skin rashes and greater sensitivity to light.

Q: How can I find out for sure whether I have lupus?

A: Because many lupus symptoms mimic other illnesses, and because symptoms come and go, lupus can be difficult to diagnose. No single laboratory test determines whether a person has lupus; a blood test called an ANA is the best diagnostic tool.

A physician must evaluate symptoms, lab-test results and physical findings to establish a diagnosis. …

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