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Lesley Davila, M.D. Answers Questions On Lupus

Lesley Davila, M.D. Answers Questions On: Lupus

What is the most common complication that people can develop from lupus?

The most common manifestations of lupus include skin rashes and joint pain. However, it is important to understand that lupus can affect each patient differently. Some people have what we call mild disease, which affects only the skin and the joints.

On the severe end, it can affect the internal organs, such as the kidneys. Some people get neurologic involvement, with the brain or the peripheral nervous system affected. And still others get cardiac or lung involvement – so it really can affect just about anything.

Are all lupus patients treated with steroids?

Treatment with steroids is very common in lupus, and side effects of steroid use contribute significantly to the disease burden. Unfortunately, when patients with lupus develop other health problems it can be a challenge to determine what is caused by lupus and what is not.

One of the goals of our team at UT Southwestern is to determine whether a patient’s symptom or health issue is actually related to her lupus or if she may have something in addition to lupus that needs to be diagnosed and treated appropriately. We also try to minimize steroid use and use other nonsteroidal or disease-modifying therapy as indicated.

What do you find most heartening in terms of lupus treatment and research?

We can offer several effective medications for lupus, and there’s been some exciting research in terms of lupus nephritis (in which the kidneys are involved) that has changed our current treatment protocols.

There’s also been a lot of basic science and translational research into different ways to treat the disease in the last several years; I’m hopeful that in the future that research will offer people with lupus many more options.