Some studies suggest that weather changes such as heat, cold, humidity, and wind can affect some symptoms of lupus, depending on which body systems the disease is attacking.

Many people with lupus have reported that weather affects their symptoms, and research is beginning to back up these reports.

However, more research is necessary to determine the precise relationship between weather and lupus flares.

This article looks at the link between climate and lupus, places to live with lupus, tips on coping with lupus and weather, and more.

A person walking in San Francisco, CA, which has one of the best climates for lupus sufferers. Share on Pinterest
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According to the Lupus Foundation of America, around 1.5 million people in the United States have some form of lupus.

A small number of studies have investigated possible links between lupus and climate.

One 2019 study with 1,628 participants found that different types of weather could affect different symptoms of lupus, depending on which systems of the body lupus was attacking.

The study showed that high temperatures could affect symptoms related to the joints and the blood, as well as rashes, and cold temperatures could affect symptoms linked to the kidneys.

The researchers also found that wind could trigger symptoms linked to the lungs and respiratory system, the nervous system, and the kidneys.

Researchers who conducted a 2020 study also found that joint pain, rashes, kidney problems, and other lupus symptoms responded to certain weather conditions.

Experts do not know exactly why weather may affect lupus symptoms in some people. More research is necessary to determine possible causal relationships.

However, researchers have more thoroughly documented a link between sun exposure and lupus.

While scientists do not know precisely why sun exposure may trigger or worsen lupus symptoms, studies suggest that exposure to UVB radiation may be responsible for DNA damage and changes to certain cells that function as part of the body’s immune response. This could lead to the development of lupus.

Spending time in the sun may also trigger flares of lupus symptoms.

Although more and larger studies are necessary to find out how and why weather may affect lupus, current research suggests that people with lupus may experience fewer and less severe flares in mild climates, where weather conditions do not reach extreme temperatures.

Although research shows some correlation between certain lupus symptoms and weather changes, there is no guarantee that a person can significantly improve their symptoms by moving to a different climate.

Further research is necessary to understand how the weather may affect lupus.

Based on what researchers have discovered so far, milder climates may benefit people with lupus and might help reduce the severity or number of flares.

These include places that do not experience extreme increases or decreases in temperature and are not very humid or windy.

Places in the United States with generally mild climates include:

  • San Francisco, California
  • San Diego, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Portland, Oregon
  • New Orleans, Louisiana

For people who feel that extreme weather may trigger lupus flares, it may be beneficial, if possible, to stay indoors in a climate-controlled environment during certain types of weather, such as:

  • extreme heat
  • extreme cold
  • high winds
  • high humidity

People with lupus should also avoid sun exposure as much as possible and wear sunscreen and protective clothing while outside.

A person should pay attention to any symptoms of a lupus flare that occur during weather changes that may trigger symptoms. They should also prepare by contacting their doctor or taking their medication as a doctor has prescribed it.

Symptoms of a flare may include:

Lupus varies in severity from person to person and can affect people’s quality of life in many ways.

People with mild to moderate lupus may find the condition more manageable with treatment, while those with severe lupus may experience more frequent and more severe flares.

Treatment and a healthy lifestyle, which includes maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding smoking, can improve a person’s outlook.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, 85–90% of people with lupus have a typical life span.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about lupus and the weather.

Is cold weather better for lupus?

Colder weather is not necessarily better for lupus, although it can depend on which body systems a person’s lupus affects.

While research has linked hot weather to lupus symptoms such as rashes, inflammation around the organs, and joint pain, it has also linked cold weather to kidney inflammation. This could lead to serious complications such as kidney failure.

What environment triggers lupus?

Environments that may trigger lupus symptoms include those with:

  • extreme heat
  • extreme cold
  • high wind
  • high humidity
  • high pollution

Although more research is necessary to determine the relationship between lupus and certain weather conditions, some studies suggest that extremely high or low temperatures, humidity, and wind may affect some lupus symptoms in certain body systems.

While research suggests links between these weather changes and symptoms, more research is necessary to find out whether these changes can worsen lupus symptoms.

People with lupus may benefit from living in a more moderate climate, although there is no strong evidence to suggest that moving to an area with milder weather could significantly improve a person’s symptoms.