Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect nearly every organ in your body. The cause of lupus is unknown, and it is more prevalent in women than men. Lupus can flare, lie dormant or go into remission. The course of lupus is unpredictable, but symptoms are most noticeable during a flare. Here, we suggest the signs and symptoms that can indicate lupus is active. What treatments are available and how to prevent it.
7 Things That Happen When Lupus Flares Up
1. Joint pain
Joint pain is one of the first signs of lupus flare and it is very common. About 95% of people with lupus will have stiff or swollen joints at some time in the course of their disease.
Joint pain in lupus can be mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but they are quite different. For example:
- Lupus tends to affect joints on one side of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, affects both sides equally.
- The pain of lupus arthritis can be less destructive than that of RA. But if not treated, the lupus arthritis can cause damage in the joints.
2. Skin rash
About 60-70% of people have skin rashes when their lupus flares up. This is caused by ultraviolet radiation, which occurs due to the light sensitivity. You can get the rash when exposed to the sun or other sources of UV light.
Many people with lupus develop rash on the face and other areas of the body. This can include the arms, chest, or back. The rash can take the shape of a butterfly, covering the cheeks and the bridge of the nose of the patient.
Here are a few of the most common skin conditions caused by lupus.
- Butterfly rash, or malar rash
- Sores and rashes
- Small, red, coin-shaped lesions
- Mouth and nose ulcers
- Hair loss
- Red or purple spots on lower legs
- Raynaud’s phenomenon
Learn more: How to Cure Lupus Rash at Home
Fatigue is a sign that lupus is coming and 80% of people with lupus will have it at some point. The cause of lupus fatigue is not fully understood. But doctors think that it could be a side effect of lupus medications or some factors like:
The fatigue of lupus can have different causes. Some can be related to lupus, others cannot. If you feel persistently tired or fatigued, talk to your doctor.
4. Difficulty breathing
Lupus can attack the lungs or the heart, leading to symptoms, like:
- Sharp pain in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Heart diseases
Lupus can cause inflammation of the heart or the lungs, leading to death. If you have breathing difficulties, speak to your doctor. Your lupus seems to go into a flare.
Learn more: Lupus Patients Can Develop a Heart Disease
5. Weight changes
When lupus flares up, you may experience unexplained weight loss or weight gain.
In fact, lupus causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissues and organs. Your thyroid and certain hormones are no exception, so they can be affected, too. This can cause you to lose weight.
When the kidneys become damaged, you will experience weight gain. It usually goes along with a few symptoms, like:
- Dark urine
- The urine that appears foamy or frothy, or has a red color
- The frequent urge to urinate at night
- High blood pressure
If you get such symptoms, speak to your doctor, as a lupus flare is coming.
6. Brain fog
Lupus can also affect the central nervous system and brain. This leads to a number of neurological issues, mostly brain fog. Many people with lupus have some of the symptoms, like:
- Poor memory
- Mood swings
- Concentration problems
- Increased stress levels
Learn more: How to Support Your Loved Person with Lupus
7. Other problems
As mentioned earlier, lupus can affect anywhere of the body. So during a flare, you may have inflammation in the entire body. The symptoms may include:
- Body aches
- Weakness and muscle pain
- Unusual fevers
- Digestive problems
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
What You Can Do To Stop a Lupus Flare Up
Lupus can flare up at any time and certain factors can contribute to this. For example:
- Sun exposure
- Certain medication
- Herbal supplements
- Pregnancy, or postpartum
Depending on your symptoms, medications can help treat and prevent a lupus flare.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It can treat joint pain, rash, fever and inflammation of the heart and the lungs.
- Antimalarials, such as Plaquenil. It is used to control fever, fatigue, treat skin rash and reduce joint pain.
- Corticosteroids, such as Prednisone. A topical cream is used for lupus skin rash. And a pill form is used to treat inflammation of the kidneys, lungs, or heart.
- It can help suppress the immune system, reduce inflammation and prevent future flares.
You can also use LupuFree to stop joint pain, relieve fatigue and treat lupus rash. This is one of the most common dietary supplements for lupus that can promote the immune system balance. Often, it can take 3 to 4 months for LupuFree to show results. Ask your doctor if this would be an option for you.
To prevent lupus flares, it is important that you take the following tips:
- Manage stress
- Have enough sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid sun exposure
- Eat a nutritious, well-balanced, and varied diet
Learn more: Foods You Should Avoid if You Have Lupus