Lupus Flares: Recognizing one, triggers, and prevention

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People always ask me what a Lupus flare is, how does it feel how long does it last along with a host of other questions what are as equally hard to answer, I often reference a sickle cell crisis which people seem to be more familiar with however I thought I would be a good idea to write this blog post to help new luppies or friends and family members or a person with lupus in order for them to better understand and provide much needed support.

What is a lupus flare?

 An onset of lupus is when the symptoms of lupus worsen and make you feel uncomfortable. The formal definition of a lupus flare is a measurable increase in disease activity in one or more organ systems, with new or more severe clinical signs and symptoms and laboratory measurements. The evaluator (clinic or researcher) should consider this increase as clinically significant, and in most cases, should consider changing or adding treatment. 

A lupus flare is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by these unpredictable flares and remissions (when symptoms improve and you feel better). 

What does it mean when lupus is active? 

When lupus flare occurs, many people will notice the recovery of symptoms, but some people may experience new symptoms. Active disease is caused by inflammation of an organ (such as the kidney) or organ systems like the digestive system. 

What happens to the body during lupus flare?

Normally, our immune system, which is the part of the body that fights bacteria, viruses, and germs ("foreign invaders" such as the flu), produces proteins called antibodies to protect the body. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system cannot distinguish these foreign invaders from healthy tissues in your body. It produces autoantibodies that attack and destroy the healthy tissues of your body. These autoantibodies can cause inflammation, pain, and injury in various parts of the body. 

What are the symptoms of lupus flare?

Common symptoms that indicate a lupus flare are:

Persistent fever not caused by infection.

Abdominal discomfort or digestive problems

The legs are generally swollen

Mouth or nose ulcers or sores

Dizziness or forgetfulness

Joint pain and swelling

Increase fatigue


Hair loss



This is why it is important to see a doctor who specializes in treating lupus. He will regularly monitor your health. 

What can trigger lupus flare?

Family or other life complications and anything that causes physical stress, such as surgery, physical injury, pregnancy, or childbirth, are examples of triggers that can cause or aggravate lupus.

To make you more likely to develop lupus, you need an external trigger to trigger the disease or make it worse.

Infections: Infections such as colds or flu can activate the immune system and trigger.

Stress Episodes: After emotional or physical trauma (surgery, accidents, emotional stress), they will occur frequently. 

Pregnancy:  During pregnancy and shortly after the birth of the child

Sunlight: This is especially true for people who are sensitive to light. 

Medicines: Certain medicines and herbal supplements may cause lupus flare. Discuss with your doctor what sulfa antibiotics or other herbal supplements you are taking or may want to take.

How do you distinguish normal fatigue from a lupus flare?

If you have lupus and your work or family life requires a lot of energy, it is normal to feel exhausted. Not every fatigue is an attack of lupus erythematosus. The best way to tell if you have a sudden attack is to understand the symptoms and triggers of lupus, follow them and report them to your doctor.

Is there anything to prevent the onset of lupus? 

There are several ways to significantly reduce the occurrence and/or severity of lupus episodes. In terms of drugs, the number of drugs used to treat various manifestations and symptoms is increasing. These affect the experience of a lupus flare itself. 

The most common antimalarials are hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and corticosteroids, such as prednisone. ), such as ibuprofen, can help alleviate certain emergencies, and more aggressive treatments such as immunosuppressive agents (methotrexate, azathioprine, etc.) and biological agents such as Benlysta can also be significant for emergencies. Have an impact because they can solve potential lupus problems.

Many times, asymptomatic lupus patients feel better and stop taking the medication without asking the doctor. This is very dangerous. Stopping prescription drugs such as Plaquenil can make your condition worse. Again, discuss each medication decision clearly and often with your doctor. Ask as many questions as you need to. Make sure you feel comfortable and have a clear understanding of the medicines you are taking and why. Before prescribing any medication, be sure to let your new doctor know that you have lupus. Your doctor may develop a treatment plan specifically for you and your lupus symptoms. Most importantly, you fully understand the plan and the steps required to control the disease and avoid the onset of lupus. Your plan may include some or all of the following: 

Take the medication prescribed by your doctor.

Rest physically and mentally.

Actively treat infections

Exercise daily

Eat properly

Avoid direct sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet radiation.  

Understandably, chronic diseases can cause anxiety and depression, which can lead to stress. It is important to find a way to deal with stress. This is often called physical and mental balance. Sometimes, despite your best efforts and your healthcare provider, a lupus flare will continue. If you suspect that you may have a sudden attack, see your doctor immediately to make changes to your medication and treatment plan. 

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Lee-Anne x 

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