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Lupus

General Instructions

When preparing to go to the lab to give a sample for a lupus blood test the individual does not need to worry about fasting from food or liquids for any certain amount of time before the test.  The individual can also take his or her prescribed medication and other vitamins and supplements before giving blood for the test.  The testing is not restricted to any particular time of day.

Why It Is Used

A lupus blood test is most commonly ordered when a doctor believes that his or her patient may have lupus. A lupus blood test can be used to help confirm a diagnosis of lupus and can also be used to help monitor the condition. There is no one blood test for lupus, and so multiple blood tests are usually ordered to help doctors try to determine the origin of the symptoms.

How It Works

Lupus is a chronic disease with symptoms that can remain present over many years, and it often comes about in episodes where symptoms flare up and become quite severe and then calm down and symptoms become much milder.  Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system is overly active and attacks not only foreign cells, but the body’s own cells as well.  There is currently no cure for lupus.  Fortunately, lupus is not contagious.  One cannot get lupus by being near or by having sexual contact with an individual who has the condition.  It is still unclear as to how exactly lupus starts to affect the body, but researchers have identified several risk factors. 

Although anyone can develop lupus, it is three times more likely to affect an African American, Hispanic, or Asian individual than a Caucasian one.  Females are at a much greater risk of lupus than are males, and more cases develop in individuals between the ages of 15 and 44.  Some of the symptoms of lupus are extreme.  Sometimes they can include debilitating exhaustion, anemia, headaches, swelling, joint pain, hair loss, and ulcers in the nose or mouth.  It is believed that in people who are genetically predisposed to lupus, too much exposure to sunlight or taking certain medications can cause the onset of the condition.

Results

Making a firm diagnosis of lupus can be difficult.  For one thing, because the symptoms of lupus present in peaks and valleys, it is often difficult to develop a standard of what blood test results are typical for someone with lupus.  Also, there is no ultimate diagnostic test for lupus.  A diagnosis of lupus involves multiple blood tests, the ruling out of many other disorders, and plenty of time to see how symptoms progress.  Once lupus is diagnosed, the blood tests and doctor appointments do not stop even though there is no cure for lupus.  Treatment involves managing symptoms and taking immunosuppressant medications.  Lupus symptoms can change quickly and go from mild to life threatening.  An individual with lupus needs to have frequent blood testing done in order to monitor their condition. 

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