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Lupus Flares: Is There Such a Thing as Normal?

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It’s normal to fear the unexpected – and what’s more unexpected than lupus flares?

You follow the standard advice on how to avoid lupus flares by trying to limit stress, getting plenty of rest, and being cautious of UV light. And lately it seems like the list of things to avoid is getting longer and longer. The Johns Hopkins Lupus Center list of things to avoid to stave off lupus flares even added some new ones like:

  • garlic,
  • alfalfa sprouts, and
  • echinacea

Duration of lupus flares

There is not good research into how long lupus flares last and browsing patient communities can cloud things even further. To try and help with this, we conducted a survey of visitors to this site. Thus far, over 2,700 people have participated in the poll! ?

How long does your typical lupus flare last?

Nearly 63% of people reported that lupus flares last one week or less. Of that group, almost 75% of people experienced flares lasting between two and 6 six days. Typical flares of two weeks were reported by over 1/4 of poll participants.

Typical Lupus Flare Duration

  • 1 Day
  • 2-3 Days
  • 4-6 Days
  • 1 Week
  • 2 Weeks
  • Other

In many ways, it is hard to read too much into these results because there was such an equal distribution of responses among the choices. If anything, it suggests that the concept of typical lupus flares may not exist. This sentiment was expressed by many of the people that chose to write in responses. Nearly 10% of people reported that their flares lasted a different duration than the available choices.

Of the 268 write-in answers, there were numerous responses that a typical flare lasts months, entire seasons (like the whole summer), or even years. Below are some excerpts of the answers given on lupus flares:

“My flares are never typical…so it’s random…the past 4 months I’ve been in a flare that ramps up”


“I have had them last up to a month and other times only a week or so.”


“I have lupus symptoms everyday. Somedays I feel almost normal, other days…”


“Unsure. Not sure I have ever stopped flaring”

With lupus flares, atypical is the norm

In looking at our survey results, it’s hard for people to tell how long a flare will last. Part of that difficulty comes from understanding exactly what a lupus flare is. There are infographics on the internet and top 10 lists of lupus flare signs, many of which are aspects of measurable disease activity scales. But, as Dr. Jamal Mikdashi and Dr. Ola Nived wrote in their 2015 article:

Measuring lupus disease activity accurately remains a challenging and demanding task given the complex multi-system nature of lupus, an illness known for its variability between patients and within the same patient over time.

Researchers work to find truly equatable measures of disease activity to help make comparisons of treatment effectiveness. And, these measures can then be defined as “end points” for clinical trials – which are clearly defined clinical goals.

Clearly, lupus flares are complicated and diverse in nature and per person. For insights from top lupus bloggers into some effective strategies for coping with flares, see our article on Managing Lupus Flares.

Comments (7)

7 thoughts on “Lupus Flares: Is There Such a Thing as Normal?

    1. I’m interested in what they told you for with having multiple autoimmune diseases. Did they ever consider Ankylosing Spondylitis?

  1. Find it frustrating when you doctor presents you with this diagnosis but does not provide information as to what to expect or what to look for when dealing with this disease. You are left to your own devices to figure out what is going on in your body or what is associated with Lupus or nothing to be concerned about.

    1. I agree. I have just been diagnosed and I am not sure where to start. I feel I should research what it is and what to expect but I am not sure of reliable resources

      1. The hardest part is that it seems everyone’s symptoms and flares have some common elements, but also many individual symptoms

  2. Some of the time my brain become psychotic when entering a flare-up. Also I have trouble with my vision and my body aches over. I might have a temperature. Chronic fatigue. Very tired. Depression. And then about a week into it, the flair vaporizes. It’s creepy, yet I listen to my body and rest, eat right, drink a lot of water and talk with family or close friends about it.

  3. 2 weeks sounds about right … but every month ( 1/2 the time) . When not flaring, I’m catching up with everything I put on the back burner when ‘flaring’

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