Due to its varied symptoms, lupus may be difficult to accurately diagnose and in some cases can take months or years. Diagnosis requires a careful assessment of medical history, close examination of symptoms, blood count testing, and blood and urine tests to determine presence of antibodies, particularly the antinuclear antibody (ANA). However, these tests are complicated by the fact that other infections and autoimmune diseases also produce ANA. In fact, ANA is even occasionally detected in healthy people. Furthermore, some people can have more than one autoimmune disease, making diagnosis even more complex.
At present, although there is no known cure for lupus, it can be treated and managed so that people can lead active and high quality lifestyles. Lupus patients are closely monitored to track the progress of the disease and, because of its complexity, several different health care specialists may be involved at different times to develop individualized treatment plans. The main goals of treatment are to decrease inflammation and minimize damage to organs. Common drugs used by lupus patients include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, anti-malarials, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressants. It is always important for all people with lupus to maintain good communication with their doctors and have regular check-ups. Patients come to understand what causes their flares and can take steps to prevent or lessen them so that they can experience better health overall.