First, this is a recap of previously agreed upon flare triggers:
- not enough rest
- rapid stopping of lupus medications
- being overworked
- emotional stress
- sometimes ANY exposure to ultraviolet light
- certain medications and certain over-the-counter medications
Do you notice a trend; I do! I see that anything that places a stress on your system and requires that your body physically or emotionally adjust to a new set of circumstances has the potential to cause a flare of your symptoms.
So, how can each of the above triggers, throw you into a flare of your symptoms? All of them put a physical or emotional stress on your system, but there are additional ways worth mentioning
- not enough rest: Sleep deprivation is harmful to the immune system HOW? T cells are decreased when we get too little rest and when T cells are decreased or are decreasing, the body has a harder time fighting infection.
- pregnancy places a stress on the body and if women become pregnant 6-8 months after symptoms become quiescent, they’re are less likely to develop a lupus flare during pregnancy. This means they need to plan pregnancies
- when lupus patients have infections, they are likely to be started on medications. If you remember, STARTING a medication is an adjustment the body needs to make and rapidly starting a medication can trigger a flare
- when people are overworked, they get too little sleep which can worsen their symptoms
- emotional stress often causes us not to be able to sleep, to lie awake thrashing. When we don’t get enough sleep, T cells of the immune system have a harder time fighting infection.
- ultraviolet light can trigger a flare Normally, an intact immune system rids us of aging or dying skin cells. Because sunburn can cause cell death and enough sunburn can cause enough inflammation so that more than ‘a simple’ sunburn results. UV rays can cause enough inflammation so that not just the skin, but the joints, muscles and internal organs are affected. FLARE
- surgery: is a physical stress on the system and an emotional stress on the body, both of which trigger flares. Also, surgery can introduce medications (like antibiotics or anesthetics) not taken before, which can trigger a lupus flare. A cortisone injection (intravenous or intramuscular) is sometimes given.
- viruses cause trigger lupus flares because they are a kind of infection and exposure to any infection causes the immune system to work ‘overtime.’
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to prevent flares, but knowing what can cause flares and how flares are triggered, gives some ideas as to how they can be managed. We’ll address that in another post.