What Is the Best Climate for People With Lupus?

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Many people with lupus have long insisted that weather changes can impact their symptoms. Now, research is backing those claims.

"Lupus" is an umbrella term for several related autoimmune diseases. The most common type is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), in which a misfiring immune system attacks several systems in the body and cause inflammation.

This article looks at the connections between weather, environment, and lupus symptoms.

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How Weather Affects Lupus

Only a few studies have been done on how weather affects lupus symptoms.

The first significant study looked at system-specific effects of weather changes rather than at overall lupus symptoms and flares. That means weather’s impact on you may depend on what body systems lupus is attacking.

Researchers noted weather-related symptom flares for several categories:

  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Skin rashes
  • Renal (kidneys
  • Neurologic (brain and nerves)
  • Hematologic (blood)
  • Pulmonary (lungs)
  • Serositis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart, lungs, abdomen, and other organs)

The study also tracked weather changes in the 10 days before people sought medical attention for lupus flares, looking at:

  • Temperature increases and decreases
  • Ozone concentration
  • Residual wind
  • Humidity increases
  • Fine particulate matter (pollution) in the air
  • Barometric pressure changes

Researchers found associations with all the weather changes except for barometric pressure. A more recent study verified many of the results summarized in the table below.

  Heat  Cold Ozone Wind Humidity Pollution 
Joints    
Rashes high
Renal     low    
Neurologic        
Hematologic      
Pulmonary
Serositis      

Additional Studies

Cold temperatures significantly affect people with lupus who also have Raynaud's syndrome. This condition causes your hands to get extremely cold when exposed to moderately cold temperatures. The skin may turn white, blue, purple, or red, which can be quite painful.

Other studies have found:

  • High pollution levels in the air increase airway and systemic (body-wide) inflammation in juvenile SLE.
  • Wildfire smoke, which creates fine particulates, can worsen SLE activity.
  • Exposure to low temperatures increases hospital readmissions for people with SLE.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure is known to worsen SLE symptoms, and some research suggests it may be linked to the development of lupus.

Ideal Places for People With Lupus

With what researchers have learned so far about climate's effect on SLE, it's hard to say what is the best climate for lupus. It depends on your symptoms, which can change throughout the disease.

Based on the research, it may be best to live someplace where:

  • The weather doesn't have extreme or frequent fluctuations.
  • It's not very humid or windy.
  • Air pollution levels are low.

It's important to note that the studies so far only show a correlation between these weather changes and lupus symptoms, so there is no guarantee moving somewhere different will improve your health. The studies don't establish climate factors as a cause. It'll take more research to understand the relationship entirely.

Heat Intolerance

It's well established that many people with lupus and other autoimmune diseases get sicker in the heat. If you want to move to a better climate for your illness, somewhere with lower temperatures may be the way to go.

Lupus Treatment

Lupus treatment usually involves one or more medications such as:

The medications also help to prevent flares whenever possible.

How to Prevent Lupus Flares

  • Stick to your treatment plan.
  • Reduce stress levels.
  • Limit exposure to the sun and fluorescent or halogen lights.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get regular moderate exercise.
  • Get enough sleep and rest.
  • Learn to pace yourself.
  • Prevent infectious illnesses.

Summary 

Studies suggest weather changes and air pollution may impact lupus symptoms. Specific changes, like temperature and humidity fluctuations, appear only to affect flares involving certain systems, such as the kidneys or lungs. Research has established links but not whether those factors cause lupus symptoms to worsen. The best places to live may be those with moderate temperature fluctuations and low levels of wind, humidity, and air pollution.

A Word From Verywell

Jobs, families, relationships, and finances are all major factors in where you choose to live. If moving isn’t an option, you can use the growing knowledge about the possible impact of weather changes to manage your lupus in other ways. This may include keeping an eye on temperature and humidity fluctuations and planning for extra rest when changes are happening. Protecting yourself from sunlight, extreme temperatures, wind, and air pollution may help ease your symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is a warmer or colder climate better for lupus?

    The answer may depend on what systems your lupus affects. Research suggests temperature increases are tied to joint pain, rashes, and inflammation of the membrane around the heart, lungs, abdomen, and other organs (called serositis).

    Falling temperatures may be linked to kidney inflammation.

  • How does humidity affect people with lupus?

    Some research suggests humidity increases are associated with joint pain and serositis. These symptoms also appear to worsen as the temperature goes up.

  • What should lupus patients avoid?

    If you have lupus, you may benefit from avoiding:

    • Sunlight
    • Extreme temperatures
    • High humidity
    • Strong winds
    • Air pollution

    Research suggests these environmental factors are tied to increased lupus symptoms in some people.

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10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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