What is lupus?

Lupus is a multi-organ autoimmune disease of unknown cause. We do not know why people get lupus. We speculate that many people may have a predisposition to develop lupus and when exposed to an environmental trigger, such as an infection, smoking or sun exposure, the disease ensues. Lupus tends to be a long-term disease. Without treatment, lupus is a life-threatening condition. However with current therapies, patients with lupus can have the disease controlled and continue living productive lives.

What are some symptoms of lupus?

Lupus can affect basically any organ. Joint swelling, characteristic rash, mouth or nasal ulcers, renal damage, fluid around heart or lungs, persistently low blood counts, pronounced inflammation on laboratory studies, brain dysfunction are some symptoms of lupus.

There is no single test for lupus. No single test is sufficient nor specific to diagnose lupus. Lupus is diagnosed with a combination of clinical and laboratory features. 

What are treatment options for lupus?

UC Davis Health provides comprehensive care for children with lupus. Lupus is usually treated with medications that modify the immune system and other adjuvant medications. Steroids, hydroxychloroquine, mycophenolate mofetil, methotrexate, rituximab, leflunomide, belimumab, cyclophosphamide and azathioprine are some medications used for its treatment. Supplementation with calcium, vitamin D and antibiotics may also be used. Wearing sunblock (SPF between 30 and 50), hats and long sleeves (sleeves can be thin) are also recommended. Tobacco exposure should be avoided.