What if you could prevent a lupus flare before it happened? By being on the lookout for and reducing the effects of these lupus flare triggers you can.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I’m an individual that suffers from lupus. All content found on lupusisgoingdown.com, including text, images, audio, or other formats, were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Having lupus, you know when a flare is coming on: increased fatigue, fever, upset stomach, or increased joint pain. Well, these are the most mentioned lupus flare warning signs.
Or, you might have your own because, as all lupus patients know, lupus acts differently for each individual.
Personally, the brain fog is amped way up when I’m entering a flare. Also, a get a lupus headache, my face feels like it’s on fire, and I itch all over. Not to mention the stomach pain.
Yet, even though the flare warning signs are different, the flare triggers are pretty common. In fact, they can be classified into 5 categories. And, if you monitor your life for these 5 triggers and handle them properly, you can avoid a lupus flare.
So, what are these 5 Lupus Flare Triggers?
First of all, any kind of change in your emotional equilibrium can trigger a lupus flare. Usually, you experience some sort of life changing event like family problems, relationship issues, or the death of a loved one. Such changes bring on emotional stress.
And, cue the flare.
Or, work related drama can be the culprit. I know for me that was a major trigger.
Teaching was my passion, but my body couldn’t handle the stress that the classroom put me through. I was missing too many days from being sick. It seemed as if I was going through one major flare up after another.
If the stress isn’t caused by any of those issues, it could be caused by the anxiety of having lupus.
How ironic is that? Stressing over having lupus can cause the worsening of your symptoms.
So, how do you de-stress?
Several ideas come to mind:
- Get lost in a good book
- Address the issue causing the stress positively (Sometimes, this requires making a change like changing jobs).
- Watch funny YouTube videos- Seriously, laughter is a good destressor.
Find what works for you. It’s not really about what you do. More importantly, it’s about taking action and lowering the stress meter.
What You Eat
Now, nutrition comes into play as a lupus flare trigger in two ways: foods that boost immune health and foods that increase inflammation.
Wait a minute?
You’d think that foods that boost immune health would be good for you. Yes, if you had a normal immune system. But, you don’t.
You have lupus. And, you’re immune system goes all crazy and attacks healthy tissue.
So, it’s best to avoid foods known to boost immune health like garlic or alfalfa sprouts. Eat too much of these, and your immune system will kick it up a notch. And, next thing you know, you’re in the midst of a flare.
Just a note here, you don’t have to completely avoid garlic altogether if you don’t need to. Maybe, just limit the amount.
For me, garlic is a major trigger. If I eat too much garlic, I know I’m headed for trouble. And, I’m not talking about reflux (Well, actually, that’s part of it). No, I’m talking about a flare.
So, a spaghetti dinner loaded with a garlicky sauce with garlic bread isn’t happening for me.
Interestingly, that brings me to the other foods to avoid- foods that cause inflammation.
Want to know what’s topping the list? Gluten.
Want to know what’s also on the list? Tomatoes and other nightshades.
That’s why the spaghetti dinner is a no go for me. That is, if it’s made the traditional way. Now, if I have an autoimmune protocol spaghetti with faux-mato sauce and zoodles, I’m good to go.
So, what’s this autoimmune protocol I mentioned? It’s a diet plan that lets you fight inflammation. For more information on the autoimmune protocol, read my post The AIP Diet Food List: Do’s and Don’ts.
In addition to nightshades and gluten, you’ll also want to skip out on sugar, processed foods, and trans fats (ie. fried foods).
What is physical stress?
Well, it’s anything that causes physical exertion on your body.
So, it includes injury, surgery, or infection.
Also, for you ladies, it includes pregnancy and childbirth
Not that I would know anything about the last one. I’m a man with lupus, so pregnancy isn’t on my radar. Yet, I’m a father, and I saw what my ex-wife went through with the births of my two daughters. All, I can say is that women are way tougher than men after watching that.
Personally, I have a trigger that affects me far more than these others.
It’s allergies and sensitivities. For example, the school I worked for used certain chemicals to clean the hallways with. And, as soon as they cleaned the floors in the afternoon, I got a headache. And, it took the rest of the evening to get rid of it.
Spring is always worse for me because of the pollen count or the mold. Now, I live in Southeast Texas where it rains quite a bit. And, the mold count is always elevated.
It’s like I live with a sinus infection. And when I get like that, I know I’m headed for a flare. Next thing you know, I can hardly walk. Or, my blood pressure spikes.
And, it started with an allergy.
As a person diagnosed with lupus, you’re no stranger to fatigue. Basically, the fight going on inside your body is making you tired. And, I mean tired all the time.
But, could it also be caused by other factors?
Sure, it can. Being overworked can cause exhaustion.
For instance, I recently took my daughters for a weekend getaway. We went shopping one day (and I mean all day). Then, we visited some museums the next day (We dig art.) Anyways, once we got back home, I was drained.
I didn’t have the energy to do anything. And sure enough, by bedtime that evening I had a headache so bad I couldn’t sleep. So, I cycled even further down. It took me almost a week to feel better.
Along with being overworked, you can also suffer exhaustion from improper rest, insomnia, and irregular sleep patterns.
Finally, you may be suffering from a physical issue like lowered thyroid function.
That’s why it’s important for you to communicate any of these issues with your doctor. He/ she can help you discover the source of your exhaustion so you can address it.
Finally, we get to the most common lupus flare trigger: photosensitivity. That’s right UV rays affect more than 60% of lupus patients.
That’s why sun protection is so important for you. Those UV rays are damaging enough with a normal immune system, but with lupus its even worse.
If you want to know more about how to protect yourself from the sun, read my post- Lupus Sun Sensitivity- Don’t Feel Like a Vampire.
Now, I take all the precautions I can as far as the sun is concerned. Yet, even being out for a couple of hours will trigger a flare.
But staying indoors all the time isn’t the answer. In fact, it can even cause a trigger.
That is, if you use fluorescent lights. Fluorescent lights emit UV rays, too.
Honestly, along with the pressure that they system puts on teachers today, I think that sitting under those fluorescent lights in my classroom was what was causing all my triggers.
At home, I can control what kind of lights I use, but in a public building that’s not always an option. So, I had to remove myself from the environment.
Lupus Flare Triggers Don’t Have To Slow You Down
Even those these lupus flare triggers exist, they don’t have to control your life. By being aware of their existence in your life, you can create a plan to minimize their affects.
Also, you can avoid them if possible.
Once you’re aware, you can manage your emotional stressors, eat the right foods, get more rest, prepare for physical stressors, and protect yourself from UV rays.
Managing lupus flares is about managing your lifestyle.
Living with lupus isn’t about giving up. It’s about modification. By modifying your life, you offer yourself a better quality of life.
And you move from being a lupus sufferer, to a lupus warrior.
If this post helped you, please share it through social media so others can be helped. As lupus warriors, we need to stick together.
Wishing you better days ahead,