Lupus can cause a variety of symptoms, as it may affect several areas of the body. For some individuals, this can lead to fluctuations in weight.

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disorder that can cause damage to nearly any part of the body. The condition occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. This can result in a wide variety of symptoms, and why some health experts may refer to lupus as “a disease with a thousand faces.”

This means that lupus can present differently between individuals. While some people may experience weight gain, others may experience weight loss, and some individuals may not notice any changes in their weight.

This article discusses how lupus can affect a person’s weight and ways to help manage it.

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For some people, living with and managing lupus can cause weight gain. Weight gain may also lead to worsening lupus symptoms and complications associated with obesity.

Some potential causes of weight gain that relate to lupus may include:

Lupus can also affect the body in ways that can cause unintended or unwanted weight loss.

Many people living with lupus will develop digestive symptoms related to the condition. These can include:

These symptoms, and others associated with lupus, can lead to a person eating less or not getting enough calories, both of which can cause weight loss.

An overly restrictive diet may also lead to weight loss. Many people find that certain foods increase their symptoms, which may cause them to cut out too many calorie sources.

Learn about foods to include and avoid when living with lupus.

Excess weight can also lead to a worsening of lupus symptoms. Evidence notes that obesity can lead to decreased mental and physical functioning when an individual first receives a lupus diagnosis.

Having obesity can also negatively affect the course of a person’s condition, leading to a faster decline than others living with lupus. Evidence also suggests that people with lupus and obesity have a higher chance of reporting:

  • depression
  • more severe symptoms
  • pain
  • fatigue

There are several ways a person can manage their weight while living with lupus. Once they receive a diagnosis, individuals should follow treatment recommendations from a doctor or medical team. This can help reduce the number and severity of lupus flares.

To help manage weight, a person may want to consider one or more of the following options:

A person can also consult a doctor about other medication options if they experience weight gain while taking corticosteroids.

Lupus can lead to weight fluctuations, depending on how the condition and its treatments affect a person’s body. For example, lupus medications can result in weight gain and weight loss.

Individuals can take measures to help manage their weight after receiving a lupus diagnosis. These strategies often include lifestyle changes, such as changing their dietary plan, getting regular exercise, and avoiding alcohol and smoking if necessary.

A person may also consult a medical professional about alternative medications if they believe treatments are affecting their weight.

Evidence also suggests that maintaining a moderate weight can help individuals avoid potential complications and worsening symptoms from lupus. If a person is experiencing issues with weight changes, they may consider contacting their doctor.