Lupus: Triggers and Warning Signs

Lupus is a chronic disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s organs and tissues. The exact cause of lupus is unknown; however, it is believed that hormones, genetics, and environmental factors play a role.

Anyone can develop lupus, but some individuals may have a greater risk than others.  Those with a higher risk are:

  • Black people
  • Asian people
  • Hispanic people
  • People assigned female at birth
  • People with a family history of lupus

Symptoms of lupus range from mild to severe, and can include:

  • Joint pain
  • Butterfly rash
  • Mouth sores
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen glands
  • Inflammation in the brain
  • Blood clots
  • Hair loss

People living with lupus often experience periods when their symptoms worsen; this is known as a flare. Flares come and go and are often triggered by anything that causes stress to the body.  Common triggers may include:

  • Emotional stress
  • Pregnancy or giving birth
  • Infections
  • Surgery
  • Physical injuries
  • Viral illnesses
  • Severe exposure to ultraviolet rays
  • Exhaustion (being overworked or not getting enough rest)
  • Certain medications
  • Not taking lupus medications regularly

Lupus flares often have warning signs such as fever, swollen joints, fatigue, and other associated symptoms.  However, flares can also occur without symptoms. This is why individuals diagnosed with lupus must visit their doctor regularly to monitor their health.

The Lupus Center at Jamaica Hospital is staffed by highly trained rheumatologists. For more information about the Lupus Center or to make an appointment, please call (718) 206-9888.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Lupus Awareness Month

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation in many different parts of the body, including (but not limited to) your joints, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs, as well as other organs.

Lupus is often distinguished by a facial rash that spreads across both cheeks. However, it can still be difficult to diagnose, as it may present a wide variety of symptoms in different people that may resemble other conditions.

Most people with lupus experience mild symptoms broken up by periodic flare-ups, during which their symptoms temporarily worsen. Aside from inflammation, these symptoms may include fever, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, shortness of breath, and fingers and toes that turn white or blue in response to cold or stress.

People with lupus can also experience several complications. The leading cause of death among people with this condition is kidney failure due to damage caused by the disease. However, inflammation of the heart and lungs also increases the risk of additional medical problems, such as cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, seizures, and strokes.

The cause of lupus is unknown, but it is most common for women and people of Black, Hispanic, or Asian backgrounds. Although lupus is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45, it can affect people of any age. Lupus (as well as flare-ups of symptoms) can be triggered by sunlight, infections, and certain medications, such as antibiotics, blood pressure medication, and seizure medication.

Lupus is a life-long disease with no cure, but it can be managed with the help of a doctor. Several different types of drugs, including steroids, monoclonal antibodies, and chemotherapy drugs, may be used to help you cope with your symptoms, depending on your specific symptoms. You may also need to avoid certain vaccines, particularly those with live viruses such as the chickenpox or shingles vaccine, as well as make certain adjustments to your diet.

You can receive specialized medical treatment for lupus at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.