Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation throughout your entire body. Symptoms may cycle through periods of improvements and flare ups — but the chronic disease is not curable. However, medications, lifestyle changes and careful monitoring with the help of our providers can help you get back to feeling close to normal.
Risk Factors for Lupus
No one yet knows what causes lupus, although genetic factors are thought to be a factor. Around 90% of people with lupus are female, and most develop the disease between ages 15 to 44. People who are African American, Asian-American, Latino, Native American or Pacific Islander are slightly more likely to develop the disease, as are people who have a close family member with lupus or a different autoimmune disease.
Symptoms of Lupus
There are many different symptoms of lupus, and they vary from person to person. Symptoms can also change as the disease evolves or worsens. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Chest pain
- Hair loss
- Low blood cell counts
- Mouth sores
- Muscle pain
- Rashes, often butterfly-shaped on the face
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Swollen glands
Diagnosis of Lupus
After our providers evaluate your medical history and symptoms, they will order blood and urine tests, as poor kidney function can be another sign of lupus. The blood will be screened for specific antibodies. If you test positive for the antinuclear antibody — a test that helps identify autoimmune disorders — you will undergo additional bloodwork that can help diagnose lupus. Your doctor may also order a tissue biopsy of your skin or your kidney.
Treatment for Lupus
There is no cure for lupus, and your treatment plan will likely change throughout the course of your life, as symptoms flare and subside. Our rheumatologists will help you decide what medications might be needed, and what other medical care you might need. Common medications used in lupus treatment include corticosteroids and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine. You may also need medications to treat heart or kidney problems that lupus can cause.