8 Triggers Associated With Lupus And Its Symptoms


Maybe you have heard of lupus but are not quite sure what it is. This chronic illness is an autoimmune disease, which is when your immune system attacks your own organs and tissues because it does not recognize them as part of your body. It can trigger pain and inflammation in different parts of your body, and a large percentage of lupus cases affect a major organ such as the brain, heart, lungs, or kidneys. The skin and joints are also commonly affected by the disease.

Because lupus triggers a variety of symptoms that are associated with other illnesses, it can be hard to diagnose. One distinct sign of the disease is a rash that spreads across the cheeks and nose that is shaped like a butterfly, but not all patients get this. Different cases may display a very different set of symptoms, which can range from mild to severe. Other symptoms may include fever, fatigue, joint pain, dry eyes, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, confusion, and memory loss. One thing most patients have to constantly deal with is chronic pain.

The big question that still eludes experts is what exactly causes lupus. Until now, there is no clear answer, though studies have associated the disease with a number of possible triggers. Read on to find out what factors may increase your risk of developing lupus.


  1. Genetics

If someone in your family has lupus, you are at a higher risk of developing it. The ailment, along with other autoimmune diseases, tends to run in families. The John Hopkins Lupus Center cites that people with siblings suffering from lupus are 20 times more likely to develop it too. Certain genes have been associated with lupus, including MHC class II and III, though the strength of its ties with MHC II varies by ethnicity.


  1. Hormones

Women are at a higher risk of developing lupus with nine times greater likelihood than men. This is due to the larger quantities of estrogen that women produce. This hormone gives women a more powerful immune system than men, which results in a greater occurrence of autoimmune diseases in women. Studies have also found that oral contraceptives, hormonal replacement therapy, and other treatments containing estrogen may increase their risk of developing lupus.


  1. Race

Race comes into play when it comes to risk factors for lupus. Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop the illness than Caucasians women. These include African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Among African American women, one in 537 is affected, according to research. Moreover, patients of this ethnicity have a greater likelihood of having a more active disease and organ system involvement compared to their Caucasian counterparts.


  1. Toxic Exposures

Studies have shown that exposure to silica dust increases a person’s risk of developing lupus. People working in mining and glass production have greater exposure to the fine dust of this mineral, which can also be found in products like ceramics and pottery. Other toxic exposures that have been linked to lupus include pesticides, mercury, and cigarette smoking.


  1. Viral Infections

Research suggests a possible connection between lupus and viral infections, including human parvovirus, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, and hepatitis A virus. One particular study indicates that the Epstein-Barr virus may increase the risk of developing lupus, as well as six other autoimmune diseases. In addition, it is possible that the immune system of a lupus patient reacts differently to exposure to this virus compared to a healthy person.


  1. Ultraviolet Light

We know that ultraviolet rays can have harmful effects, including premature aging of the skin and other signs of sun damage. Lupus makes patients more susceptible to the harm of UV light since its effects on skin cells can cause their immune system to consider these a threat. This in turn may trigger or exacerbate both the symptoms of skin lupus as well as systematic symptoms.


  1. Changes in the Atmosphere

According to preliminary research by co-director George Stojan, MD of the John Hopkins Lupus Center, changes in the atmosphere may affect lupus flares in specific organs in patients. Examples of these atmospheric factors include pollution, humidity, temperature, wind patterns, and barometric pressure. The organs affected are variable, with no single factor tied to every type of organ flares.


  1. Stress

Lupus patients have even more to deal with compared to healthy people when it comes to stress. While it does not actually cause the ailment, stress can trigger lupus symptoms and flares. This applies to both emotional and physical stress.



Unfortunately, no cure has yet been found for lupus. However, symptoms of the disease can be managed with treatment. Milder symptoms such as pain, inflammation, and fever may be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Antimalarial drugs such as hydroxychloroquine may be prescribed for mild to moderate symptoms such as pain and skin rashes. Corticosteroids may also be given to address lupus flares.

Though there is no real cure for lupus, your doctor can guide you and find the best treatment plan for your symptoms if you work through your illness together.

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