Hi, Im new to this site and would just like to introduce myself. I have not been diagnosed with lupus as of yet but I am currently undergoing tests. Can someone just tell me why it takes so long to diagnose lupus?
First of all inwant to welcome you to the sight and hope you find lots of support in here as much as i have always.Well first of all i am not sure if i can answer that question of why it takes so long to diagnose lupus.I have heard that one of the reasons is because it mimics a lot of auto immune diseases.It did not take long for my diagnosis of lupus as i was very lucky to from what i hear but i also had not gone to the doctors because at the time i had seen enough of them and would tell me most of my pain was either no biggie or just did not know so i stopped trying to figure it out even with so many migraines and major fatigue .Well good luck and i am sure someone else will come in with some more support for you but good lcuk and please let us know how it all goes at getting diagnoses.
Lupus is a very complex disease, the disease of a "1000 faces". The symptoms can vary so much from one person to another and that can make it very difficult to pinpoint what's going on. As Tammy said it does mimic other diseases too and many auto-immune diseases have overlapping symptoms.
Diagnosis is sometimes made easier by certain bloodtests but clinical diagnosis is extremely important too and having a good rheumatologist who will rely on experience as well as blood tests helps a lot.
Some doctors tend to be very "lab" oriented and won't treat someone at all unless they can find "proof" in the blood. Others will use their experience more. To be fair, it is a very complex disease for the docs too.
It often takes a long time when symptoms are the "common" ones that could occur due to a variety of causes, and when a doctor does not suspect they are due to autoimmune disease. Symptoms like headache, joint pain, fatigue can be due to so many things... especially when they come and go, are on the mild side, etc. Even a malar rash will often be confused with rosacea by many GP's.
Once autoimmune disease is suspected, and blood tests are run & all relevant questions are asked by the doctor, then it can go quite quickly if symptoms and blood tests match up to equal a particular autoimmune disease. If the blood tests don't show anything, especially a negative ANA, then that can delay diagnosis significantly. In some people, ANA is detectable years before autoimmune symptoms appear. But in other people, symptoms precede positive bloodwork for years. These people will have a hard time being diagnosed unless they see a very competent rheumy, well trained in lupus (assuming lupus is suspected).