Icon: Active Lupus

What Is a Flare?

Are you having a flare? How do you know, anyway? And why does it matter?

I’ve had a lot of joint pain for a couple of days now. And all I can wonder is if it’s a lupus flare or ‘just’ harmless aches and pains.

Lupus flares

A flare is when you have an increase in your lupus disease activity that can be measured. During a flare, some of the symptoms you already had get worse or brand-new symptoms appear. It could be a light rash that spreads or gets darker or mouth sores that suddenly show up.  

 

 

A flare is when you have an increase in your lupus disease activity that can be measured. During a flare, some of the symptoms you already had get worse or brand-new symptoms appear. It could be a light rash that spreads or gets darker or mouth sores that suddenly show up. 

  • If you experience increased lupus symptoms, known as a flare, it may mean your disease is active.
  • If your symptoms get worse, or if new symptoms appear, it’s time to talk to your doctor.

Keep in mind that some flares happen without signs you can see or feel. But they can still be measured by your doctor (such as kidney involvement). The first signs of lupus nephritis, for example, often appear on urine lab tests. This is why it’s important to continue seeing your doctor regularly, even if your lupus seems well controlled. 

A flare is when you have an increase in your lupus disease activity that can be measured. During a flare, some of the symptoms you already had get worse or brand-new symptoms appear. It could be a light rash that spreads or gets darker or mouth sores that suddenly show up. 

How flares affect you

Many lupus flare symptoms can be painful and debilitating. But a recent study showed that they can have a bigger effect on you than just the obvious physical discomfort. Based on a survey of 1,500 people living with lupus, those with more frequent flares:

  • Are hospitalized more often
  • Visit ERs more often
  • Are less productive at work
  • Are less able to perform activities of daily life

 

Why it’s important to control flares

If you’re having active lupus symptoms, there may be inflammation occurring in another part of the body, too. That means when you feel or see something new, such as a swollen knee, there may also be inflammation of one or more organs. 

Icon: Lupus Doctor
 
  • Over time, active lupus may cause long-term damage to your organs if left untreated or if not treated properly.
  • Persistent use of steroids to control flares may also contribute to organ damage.
  • Be sure to work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that reduces symptoms, prevents flares, and minimizes side effects. Reducing flares may help reduce organ damage.

Lupus disease activity (flares) can cause organ damage

A flare is when you have an increase in your lupus disease activity that can be measured. During a flare, some of the symptoms you already had get worse or brand-new symptoms appear. It could be a light rash that spreads or gets darker or mouth sores that suddenly show up. 

Lupus disease activity- All kidney Art Element

Kidney used for illustration purposes only. Lupus disease activity can cause tissue damage in any part of the body, including the brain, lungs, heart, muscles, kidneys, or skin.

Lupus disease activity (flares) can cause organ damage

A flare is when you have an increase in your lupus disease activity that can be measured. During a flare, some of the symptoms you already had get worse or brand-new symptoms appear. It could be a light rash that spreads or gets darker or mouth sores that suddenly show up. 

All kidney Art Element

Kidney used for illustration purposes only. Lupus disease activity can cause tissue damage in any part of the body, including the brain, lungs, heart, muscles, kidneys, or skin.

Icon: Flare

How do I know if I’m having a flare?

The best way to determine whether or not you’re having a flare is to keep track of your symptoms and triggers and share fully with your doctor. When you’re having a flare, you and your doctor should take a look at your treatment plan and treatment options. Together you may decide a change is in order.

Again, not all lupus disease activity can be seen and felt, so remember to see your doctor regularly­—flare or not. Their routine monitoring of your condition is key.

Image: Lupus Symptom Tracker

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Learn more about the basics of lupus.

Icon: Closer Look

What Is Lupus?

Icon: Four Types of Lupus

Types of Lupus

Icon: Common Lupus Symptoms

Common Lupus Symptoms

Icon: Lupus Nephritis

Lupus Nephritis

Icon: Active Lupus

What Is a Flare?

Icon: Lupus Treatment Options

Lupus Treatment Options

Icon: Lupus Resources

Resource Organizations