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Lupus Symptoms

Overheating, Thyroid Disease, and Lupus

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The summer months bring the heat — and plenty of sweating and hot flashes. Many Lupus Warriors experience heat-intolerance and are at an increased risk of overheating 🌵☀️

Feeling hot? People with autoimmune diseases frequently experience heat intolerance when the mercury rises. This means the body struggles to regulate temperature, resulting in a person feeling unbearably hot. It can result in symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and excessive sweating.

Nitric Oxide, Lupus, and Overheating

First of all, individuals who have heat intolerance in addition to an autoimmune condition have been found to have elevated levels of nitric oxide in the body. Naturally occurring nitric oxide in the body, such as endogenous nitric oxide, works as an agent to widen blood vessels.

This widening of the blood vessels (known as vasodilation) also occurs when the body’s core temperature increases. Vasodilation causes more heat to be carried by the blood to the skin, where it can be lost to the air.

For Lupus Warriors, too much heat is rapidly transferred from blood to skin during vasodilation. This causes overheating. It’s very common for Lupus Warriors to be in a warmer setting and unexpectedly experience an intense overheating episode.

lupus-overheating

LupusCorner Insights Survey Results

LupusCorner conducted a poll of over 530 members of the LupusCorner community about the impact of environmental and weather factors on lupus and lupus symptoms.

77.8% of people with lupus agreed that environmental factors impacted their lupus symptoms. Environmental factors considered were pollution, allergens, and the weather.

The environmental factors that most influenced lupus symptoms in the survey were increases in temperature (68.9%) and humidity (57.8%).

The most common lupus symptoms impacted by environmental factors were fatigue (81.4%) and joint/muscle pain (81.4%).  Headaches, lupus flares, rashes/lesions, and brain fog were also commonly reported.

What steps have you taken to combat these environmental factors?

This response was free text. Responses generated the word cloud below. The size of the word correlates with the frequency of its use in the responses.

While “sun” shows up, most responses had to do with “sun safety” or “staying out of the sun”

lupus-environmental-factors-wordcloud

Hyperthyroidism, Overheating, & Lupus

Thyroid Disease

Located in the neck area, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ responsible for regulating the metabolism and releasing hormones. It plays an essential role during puberty—(think of all the significant hormonal changes during that time).

Metabolism and core body temperature are undoubtedly linked. A 2009 study at the Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association reports that an increase in body temperature is associated with a higher metabolic rate, and higher body temperatures do speed up metabolism. Because of this, an overactive thyroid might cause intense overheating episodes.

Thyroid disease is a blanket term that describes a number of conditions. The most common subsets of thyroid disease are:

  1. Thyroid nodules
    • A lump in the thyroid
  2. Hypothyroidism
    1. A condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone
  3. Hyperthyroidism
    • The overproduction of a hormone
  4. Goiter
    • Abnormal enlargement of the gland below the Adam’s apple
  5. Thyroiditis
    • Inflammation of the thyroid
  6. Thyroid cancer
    • Cancer of the thyroid

Any of these thyroid conditions can have a significant impact on the metabolism, hormones, and body temperature.

lupus-overheating

Comorbidity of Hyperthyroidism and Lupus

Typically an under-active thyroid produces symptoms that are very similar to lupus, for example:

However, an overactive thyroid—or hyperthyroidism—causes symptoms such as skin rash and dizziness which Lupus Warriors experience, too.

More Lupus Warriors experience under-active thyroid disease. Therefore, there needs to be more attention on the overlap between thyroid disease and lupus. Per the study “Prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in systemic lupus erythematosus,” there is much more to be discovered regarding the comorbidity of thyroid issues and lupus. According to these researchers, SLE patients should be routinely checked for autoimmune thyroid disease.

 

Menopause and Lupus

Another culprit for heat intolerance is menopause. Women experience this natural part of life usually in their 40’s and 50’s. Hormone levels drastically deplete causing significant symptoms and changes within the body.

lupus-overheating

Menopausal Symptoms and Lupus

Low levels of progesterone are linked to hot flashes. Also, other natural hormonal changes might cause night sweats or hot flashes. Sometimes hot flashes and night sweats just interrupt sleep. Other times, they can negatively and severely affect the quality of life.

Lupus does not intensify hot flashes or night sweats. The overall heat intolerant nature of  Lupus Warriors can compound with hot flashes causing much distress. Lupus also does not cause too many irregularities with menopause, but there have been cases of early perimenopause and/or menopause in Lupus Warriors.

 

The Takeaway

Talk with your lupus treatment team to determine the exact cause of overheating. Regarding menopause, there are abundant resources out there for women who experience hot flashes and night sweats from these hormonal changes.

Finally, remember that hot flashes, overheating, and intense sweating episodes are challenging and exhausting. Staying calm and talking to a medical provider about symptoms will help streamline treatment and bring comfort…hang in there.

 

 

Article updated: August 25, 2020

Comments (10)

10 thoughts on “Overheating, Thyroid Disease, and Lupus

  1. I’m turning 65 in November and I have Lupus SLE plus a whole lot of other Lupus related diseases etc. I have been having the most terrible hot flushes for the pas 3 years and I am not really coping with this at present. I have just been weaned off prednisone and have been without it now for about 2 weeks. I still get the hot flushes and sweat like really bad. I can’t stand it and it’s embarassing. I’m also swollen and very very very exhausted all the time and have pain which hurts when I walk. I don’t know what to do anymore??

  2. I am 60 had hysterectomy in 93 diagnosed with lupus in 94 been told by a few dr I don’t have it more have told me I do. I be had all the problems that can come along with lupus had the bad heat with all the sweating doesn’t help I’m obese so water running off me is not new the new things are severe dizziness and severe diaphoresis and feeling great to unable to move without hitting the floor urgent care said it was a migraine don’t think so just lupus I’m not sure what the solutions are just know must of use are here together with most simular prob love to you all

  3. I have lupus , I was out in heat cleaning yards for three days. I’ve been dizzy as throwing up. It’s been 3 days now I’ve been sick. How long will it last ?

    1. Hi there!
      Lupus does not intensify night sweats, however they can be symptoms of menopause and other hormonal changes.
      Thanks!

  4. I was diagnosed in 2017 and I agree with all of the above comments. THe sweating is unreal, fatigue, brain fog etc and today I was told due to the prednisone my natural insulin is no longer producing naturally so i have to have injections for the next 4 weeks which now i have to put off spine surgery from a bad fall in April. Cant win for losing with this disease

  5. Can lupus cause you to pass out after get to hot. I’ve been passing out when I get to warm after just 30 minutes outside. I do have hypothyroidism, and diabetes. Roacea too not sure if it’s lupus just curious if it does .

  6. I’m wondering if anyone with lupus has found it common that their facial butterfly rash and heat in the face can be set off by angry or stressed and come on immediately?

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