Diagnosing lupus is especially tricky; however, physicians are working toward streamlining the criteria for diagnosis that include looking for signs of inflammation. A physician may also evaluate current symptoms, laboratory test results, and medical history. And while no single laboratory test can determine a lupus diagnosis, multiple criteria presented simultaneously can often lead to an official diagnosis.

After diagnosis, treatments may include:

• Anti-inflammatory medications – help relieve many of the symptoms of lupus by reducing inflammation and pain. For many people with lupus, an anti-inflammatory drug may be the only medication they need to control their lupus.

• Corticosteroids (also known as glucocorticoids, cortisone or steroids) – synthetic (man-made) prescription drugs designed to work like the body’s naturally occurring hormones produced by the adrenal glands, in particular cortisol. Cortisol helps regulate blood pressure and the immune system and it is the body’s most potent anti-inflammatory hormone.

• Antimalarials – prescription drugs used in combination with steroids and other medications, in part to reduce the dose required of the other drugs. Antimalarials are most often prescribed for skin rashes, mouth ulcers and joint pain, but also can be effective in mild forms of lupus where inflammation and blood clotting are a concern.

• Immunosuppressives (Immune Modulators) – prescription drugs used to control inflammation and the overactive immune system, especially when steroids have been unable to bring lupus symptoms under control, or when a person cannot tolerate high doses of steroids.

In addition to medications and other medical care from doctors, a large and growing number of people turn to other healing practices to try to improve their health, including chiropractic, acupuncture and Tai Chi, and massage therapies.