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7 Conditions Confused With Lupus

A Challenging Diagnosis

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects 1.5 million Americans—90% of whom are women. But diagnosing lupus can be challenging because symptoms tend to come and go in “flares” that are hard to track. There is no one definitive test for lupus. Doctors look at the combination of your symptoms and a series of lab tests to diagnose lupus. Lupus is often called “the great imitator” because it has the same symptoms—including joint pain, fatigue, headaches, rashes, hair loss, inability to concentrate, and swelling—as many other diseases. Here are seven conditions that are frequently confused with lupus.

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Medically Reviewed By: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS | Last Review Date:

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Medical References

  1. Living With Lupus: Health Information Basics for You and Your Family. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
  2. Lupus. American College of Rheumatology.
  3. What are the common symptoms of lupus? Lupus Foundation of America.
  4. What are the diagnostic criteria for lupus? Lupus Foundation of America.
  5. What Is Fibromyalgia? National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
  6. Rheumatoid Arthritis. American College of Rheumatology.
  7. Rooney J. Systemic lupus erythematosus: unmasking a great imitator. Nursing. 2005;35(11):54-60.
  8. Lyme Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  9. Depression. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health.
  10. About Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  11. Hypothyroidism. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
  12. Pyne D and Isenberg D. Autoimmune thyroid disease in systemic lupus erythematosus. Ann Rheum Dis. 2002; 61(1):70–72.
  13. Definition of MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
  14. Lupus Fact Sheet. Lupus Research Institute.
  15. Fibromyalgia. American College of Rheumatology.
  16. What are the laboratory tests for lupus? Lupus Foundation of America.
  17. Diagnosing Tools. National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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