There’s no one climate that’s best for everyone with lupus. But certain weather conditions may increase your risk of certain types of flare-ups. Global climate change may also have an effect.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation. The most common form is system lupus erythematosus (SLE), which affects up to 70% of people with the condition. SLE affects the major organ systems of your body.
Researchers have long known that external factors can trigger lupus flare-ups and cause symptoms that include:
- organ damage
Many people with lupus think that climate can cause symptoms, too.
They’re probably right. Several newer studies have shown that temperature, humidity, and wind can worsen symptoms or keep a lid on them.
That begs the question: Is there an ideal climate for people with lupus? Read on to find out.
A few studies have examined how climate elements like temperature, wind, and pollution can affect lupus flares.
Here are some findings from that study and other related research.
They also found that higher temperatures linked to a higher likelihood of serositis, inflammation of the tissues surrounding your chest and abdominal organs.
But researchers also found that higher temperatures resulted in fewer kidney health conditions.
Some studies have found that cold temperatures can also adversely affect some people with lupus. A study involving people with lupus who returned to the hospital after treatment found that cold ambient temperatures made readmission more likely, at least in humid areas.
Researchers in the 2020 study found that higher wind linked with flares or symptoms in the:
The study authors found that humidity linked with an increased risk of serositis and joint flares.
The researchers also studied concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM) pollution. They found a link between PM pollution and:
- joint flares
A 2021 research review also found that climate change could worsen rheumatic disease and lupus.
Up to 70% of people with lupus have photosensitivity. That means ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or other sources can trigger or worsen a flare.
The more sun exposure you get, the more likely you might be to get a flare. Too much exposure to particular indoor light can also trigger a flare.
Is lupus worse in the summer or winter?
The answer is probably summer.
Some studies have linked higher temperatures and humidity to more flares in some organs and systems. And exposure to sunlight (which there’s more of during the long summer days) is a leading cause of flares.
Fewer recent studies have looked at the effect of cold weather. One 2020 study showed that colder temperatures could lead to second hospitalizations in people already admitted to the hospital and living in humid areas.
There aren’t any studies showing a single best climate for lupus. Different environmental factors affect your organs and systems differently. None of the environmental factors listed in the
Scientists need to perform more research before they can pinpoint the climate most likely to suppress or at least not trigger lupus flares.
That said, places with extremes like high humidity, wind, temperature, pollution, and UV light exposure may not be your best bet.
You can help avoid flares by staying in a climate-controlled area during weather extremes. You can also follow some essential tips for managing lupus. The
- Contact your healthcare professionals regularly.
- Get enough sleep and rest.
- Build a support system.
- Avoid common triggers and exposure to too much sun, fluorescent, halogen, or UV light.
Here are answers to some questions about how environment and climate affect lupus symptoms.
Can climate cause lupus in people at risk?
Does climate affect other autoimmune diseases?
Increasing temperatures and extreme weather events may lead to epigenetic changes. These are DNA changes that cause genes to turn on or off. These changes may increase the rate of people born with allergies and autoimmune diseases, according to a 2023 review.
Does global climate change affect lupus?
Climate change and environmental pollution can trigger or worsen lupus symptoms. Higher temperatures link with rashes, joint flares, and blood disorders. Studies have also found a link between PM pollution and increases in serositis, rashes, and joint flares.
A 2021 review is one of a few studies that found that smoke and debris from significant wildfires, which may become more common with climate change, could trigger flares.
There isn’t a single best climate for people with lupus.
Recent studies have shown that different elements of an environment can cause or suppress flares, but no one factor worsens or improves lupus symptoms. Higher temperatures, humidity, pollution levels, and exposure to UV rays all contribute to many types of lupus flares.