Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which your body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues or organs in your body and causes widespread inflammation. Inflammation from lupus can affect many different parts of the body, including joints, skin, organs, etc. In addition, lupus can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses. What is a lupus flare & how do you manage it?

What is a lupus “flare”?

For patients with lupus, symptoms can be intermittent or chronic and can come on suddenly,  give you warnings, or build gradually. When your symptoms intensify or worsen for a period of time, making you feel sick, it is commonly called a “flare.” 

Some of the most common symptoms of lupus include, but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • A butterfly-shaped rash on your face
  • Dry eyes
  • Headache
  • Rashes or skin lesions that can worsen when exposed to the sun
  • Shortness of breath

Lupus flares can occur with any of the above symptoms, or any other symptoms you might experience, including new symptoms that develop during the flare. Different symptoms might flare at different times. Symptoms can come and go. Flares can be mild or severe. 

Since each person’s experience with lupus is unique, it can be difficult to predict and treat flares; however, many people who suffer from lupus learn to control their symptoms and limit flares to enjoy a better quality of life

How to manage lupus flares

One of the most important things you can do when you have lupus is to see a rheumatologist as they specialize in diagnosing and treating rheumatologic conditions.

Develop a treatment plan

Working together with you, your doctor will develop a treatment plan to help you better manage your symptoms and pain. Although there is no cure for lupus, certain medications, therapeutics, and lifestyle changes might be available to help provide some pain or symptom relief. 

Understand and avoid triggers

Your doctor can help you learn about triggers for your illness so that you can better avoid them. Some of the most common triggers include:

  • Certain medications
  • Sun exposure
  • Working too much
  • Physical, mental, or emotional stress
  • Not enough sleep
  • Illness
  • Injury or surgery

Recognize warning signs

There will often be physical indications before you have a lupus flare. If you learn to recognize these warning signs and get treatment quickly, you might be able to limit the severity of the flare or avoid one altogether. Leading up to a lupus flare, you might notice your symptoms worsening, or you might have new symptoms like:

  • Increased pain and swelling
  • Rash
  • Prolonged fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion

Call your doctor to discuss any of these issues, since he or she may adjust your medication levels or treatment plan to address them.

Take good care of yourself

Although it’s easier said than done, getting the right amount of rest and avoiding stress is an important part of living with lupus. Relaxation techniques and finding a good support group might give you some helpful tools. In addition, moderate exercise when you are able might help reduce inflammation and increase your mobility. Finally, a healthy diet full of naturally anti-inflammatory foods can support your body’s defenses.

Make an appointment with a rheumatologist today

Living with a chronic illness can be frustrating and present many challenges. At Advanced Rheumatology of Houston, our team of specialists is dedicated to helping our patients have the best quality of life possible while managing their autoimmune condition. Learn how to manage lupus flares and call us at (281) 766-7886 to schedule an appointment. We would love to help you live your best life.