Lupus is an autoimmune disease of flares and remissions. When the disease is active or when symptoms develop or worsen and you feel ill, it’s called “a flare.” These symptoms come and go and can change suddenly.
One week you may have joint pain and rashes. The following week, you may have no symptoms at all. Even when there are no external or clear symptoms, the disease may still be active in the body. Then, laboratory tests can reveal active flares.
When the disease is inactive it is called a remission.
Even if you take medicine to control and manage lupus, you may still find that some things trigger a flare. For example, even if you are taking standard lupus medications but spend the day in the sun, you may still feel extremely run down as if you have the flu and may develop skin rashes or lesions. Also if you overdue one day and don’t get enough rest, you may develop body aches and fatigue.
Some common triggers of lupus flares include:
- Not enough rest.
- Being out in the sun
- Close exposure to fluorescent or halogen light
- Stopping lupus medicines
- Certain medications
There are also some foods like alpha sprouts that trigger the immune system and can make lupus symptoms flare. Immune boosting supplements and herbs should be avoided for the same reason.
What does a flare feel like?
Lupus flares vary from person to person and vary from mild to severe. Some may experience rashes and mild aches while others have debilitating fatigue and joint pain. In addition, those who suffer from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) need to be cautious that when their disease is in a flare, it may attack vital organs like kidneys, lungs, heart and blood.