A metaphor for understanding Lupus is fire. Lupus is an autoimmune condition which can be like a small candle flame or a bushfire. The degree of difficulty of difficulty in making the diagnosis and the extent of treatment depends on the intensity of the ” Lupus “inflammation fire”.

There are many symptoms of Lupus that are shared with other diseases and are not specific. The symptoms include fever, fatigue, weight loss, blood clots, and hair loss. There are gastric symptoms such as heartburn and abdominal pain. Often there are circulation problems in fingers and toes. A miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy is common but more frequent in women with Lupus.


Making a diagnosis is like doing a crossword. All the clues are put together to make the diagnosis.

Here is a further list of common symptoms.

  • Rashes: butterfly-shaped rash over the cheeks – referred to as malar rash.
  • Red rash with raised round or oval patches – known as discoid Lupus.
  • Rash on skin exposed to the sun.
  • sores in the mouth or nose lasting from a few days to more than a month
  • Tenderness and swelling in joints and tendons lasting for a few weeks.
  • A cough, chest pain and breathing difficulties might indicate inflammation of the lungs or the covering of the lungs. Pericarditis is the name given to inflammation of the covering of the heart.
  • Blood or protein in the urine detected on testing is a sign of kidney inflammation.
  • The nervous system can also be inflamed and the clues to this are seizures, strokes, or psychosis (a mental health problem)
  • In the blood tests, there are many signs of inflammation which include low blood cell counts, low white blood cells, or low platelets.
  • There are many antibodies that are associated with Lupus. These antibodies are not exclusive to Lupus and on their own are not diagnostic.

    Antinuclear antibody test. ( ANA)

    This test measures antibody levels ( proteins). Antibodies are part of the immune response and are formed to block a toxin or other foreign substance ( an antigen). The antinuclear antibodies response is to antigens expressed within the nucleus of human cells.

The test can be used to either confirm or exclude a diagnosis of lupus but only when used as a part of the diagnostic process. The test is positive in healthy individuals and also in other inflammatory diseases.

Most commonly the test is performed when there is a suspicion of an autoimmune condition and a positive test can cause unwanted anxiety. However, the vast majority of people with a positive ANA test have no disease. The test can be ignored as by itself it is not diagnostic.

Only a small percentage of individuals with a positive ANA will have Lupus.