Sometimes a primary care physician will diagnose you with lupus based on your health history and symptoms. But if you are not getting adequate relief from the medications and treatments they prescribe, then they may refer you to a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating autoimmune disorders, like lupus. Here is what you can expect when you see them.
Your rheumatologist may order some tests to confirm your diagnosis
Autoimmune diseases can be really sneaky. They often cause similar symptoms and can mimic each other. Your primary care physician may have diagnosed you with lupus, but there is a chance you actually have a different autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis or Sjogren's syndrome. So, before they administer any sort of treatment, your rheumatologist will want to confirm that you do, indeed, have lupus.
Lupus is partially diagnosed based on symptoms, but your rheumatologist will also want to conduct a blood test. They'll examine your white blood cell count and platelet count, and they'll test for the presence of certain antibodies that can indicate lupus.
Your rheumatologist will recommend a personalized treatment
Once your rheumatologist confirms that you do have lupus, they will work with you to create a customized treatment protocol. This may include one or more of the following:
These medications are meant to tone down your immune system so that it stops reacting to your own body tissues. There are many different drugs in this class including methotrexate, mofetil, and azathioprine. Your rheumatologist will choose one based on how you reacted to whatever medication your primary care physician prescribed and also based on the severity of your symptoms.
These medications can reduce inflammation and pain in the short term. You may need to be on one for a few weeks, in the beginning, to bring your symptoms under control while the immune-suppressing drugs start working.
This class of pain reliever is really good at alleviating both inflammation and pain, with no risk of addiction.
In the weeks that follow, you'll be asked to follow up with the rheumatologist and share how your symptoms are progressing. They'll adjust your medications and dosages based on your reactions to them, and over time, you'll find the perfect balance of treatments for you.
If you've been diagnosed with lupus and are still struggling, it is a good idea to see a rheumatologist. They'll make sure your diagnosis is correct, and they'll also work with you to find a better treatment protocol.
For more information, contact a company like Sarasota Arthritis Center.