Anyone looking to put down new roots must weigh multiple factors — an area’s cost of living, nearby loved ones, and the local education system, to name just a few. If you’re scouting out the best places to live with lupus, climate might rank high on your list of what matters most.
Some people who have lupus or other autoimmune diseases observe that certain weather conditions can have a big impact on how they feel. Environmental factors like sun exposure, barometric pressure, and temperature can aggravate symptoms and even trigger lupus flares.
Whether you’re considering a move or wondering why your flares seem to change with the weather, it’s helpful to understand the relationship between climate and lupus. We’ll discuss the impact of various aspects of the weather and review the best places to live with lupus, as recommended by MyLupusTeam members.
Although individual experiences differ, some people with lupus have connected their symptoms to changes in the weather. Environmental and atmospheric conditions have been tied to lupus flares, or periods when symptoms such as pain get worse. For instance, changes in atmospheric conditions might trigger symptoms like rashes, inflammation, and joint pain.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is a common trigger for lupus symptoms. UVA and UVB rays hitting your skin can cause problems like blisters, sunburnlike rashes, and swelling that resembles an allergic reaction. Sun exposure can also lead to other lupus symptoms, such as:
Many people with lupus have photosensitivity — they’re sensitive to UV rays from the sun or other light sources, like fluorescent lights. Photosensitivity can trigger an immune response that causes redness, discoloration, and inflammation of exposed skin.
“I have photosensitivity, which means both synthetic light and ultraviolet light will cause rashes on my face and hands,” said a member of MyLupusTeam.
Many people living with lupus experience overheating. Also called hyperthermia, overheating occurs when your body either absorbs or generates more heat than it can get rid of, and your body temperature rises higher than normal. Overheating can cause the following symptoms:
“I spent Sunday sweating profusely,” said a MyLupusTeam member. “I just got out of the shower and had sweating attacks.”
Cold weather can also affect lupus symptoms. Chilly temperatures can trigger painful flare-ups when blood vessels constrict to try to keep the body warm. One MyLupusTeam member said that they left Michigan because “the brutal cold” began to trigger lupus pain.
Some people with lupus may also have Raynaud’s disease. This condition causes narrowing of blood vessels and restricts blood flow, so less oxygen gets to parts of the body like the hands and feet. Symptoms from this condition may be constant, but they often arise in colder temperatures.
Elevated ozone levels may aggravate respiratory systems in some people with lupus. Higher ozone concentrations occur with higher levels of air pollution, like that emitted from cars and power plants. A 2020 study revealed that increased levels of air pollutants could worsen systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) symptoms.
Higher ozone concentration may cause the following symptoms in people with lupus:
Humidity (the amount of water vapor in the air) may also trigger lupus symptoms. Researchers have looked into the effects of humidity on people with diseases like SLE and arthritis, and some members of MyLupusTeam have noted that humidity bothers them. “I have found that humidity tends to make me more lethargic and drained,” one member said.
Barometric or atmospheric pressure is the measurement of air pressure in the atmosphere. Weather conditions cause barometric pressure to fluctuate, and these changes can affect your body’s internal air pressure. You might experience increased symptoms of lupus, like swelling and joint pain.
Many people living with lupus want to do all they can to reduce their risk of having a flare-up. If your location’s climate triggers or worsens your lupus symptoms, you might be considering a move. Given all the ways that weather can have an effect, what areas have the most lupus-friendly climates?
MyLupusTeam members have some answers to that question — here are the states they most recommend for people living with lupus.
Washington state has a mild climate — seasonal transitions, like from summer to winter, aren’t too harsh. Areas with mild, temperate climates are considered to have the best weather, with warm summers and cool to cold winters. Because it doesn’t have extreme weather conditions, Washington may be an excellent place for people with lupus to live.
“I have lived in Utah, and the winter and summers are awful for me,” said one MyLupusTeam member. “I lived in Arizona, and the heat was horrible for me. I am moving to Washington since I felt the best when I lived there.”
North Carolina has a more humid climate but doesn’t get too cold in the winter. The average annual temperatures in North Carolina range from 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the central region to 66 F in the east. If you’re not looking for extreme weather, North Carolina’s mix of temperatures might help with managing lupus flares.
“I live in Asheville, North Carolina, and find it to be better for me,” mentioned a MyLupusTeam member. “The four seasons are delightful; never too hot or cold.”
Virginia’s weather has been called the Goldilocks climate — it’s not too hot, and it’s not too cold. Located on the east coast, the state is considered a humid, subtropical region, so humidity may be an issue for some people during summer. However, the humidity is lower in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountain areas, which may be more suitable for lupus.
A MyLupusTeam member said that Virginia’s weather “is pretty good for lupus patients.” In addition, they mentioned that Virginia has several resources for lupus care, “stemming from rheumatologists to cardiologists.”
Although Florida is one of the hottest places on this list, some people with lupus find that the state accommodates their health needs. Like Virginia, Florida has a subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and mild winters. If the cold triggers your lupus symptoms and the sun and humidity don’t bother you, Florida could be a good option.
“I was born and raised in northeast Illinois along Lake Michigan, and we could get some brutal winter weather there," said a MyLupusTeam member. “I moved and am now living in southwest Florida. The humid warmth should help with your pain. It did for me!”
If you’re living with lupus, you might consider relocating to Hawaii, where the temperatures are mild year-round. Hawaii stays tropically warm, with no drastic weather changes. As long as the state’s sunshine and humidity won’t trigger your symptoms, Hawaii might be among the best places to live with lupus.
“I moved to Hawaii from South Carolina,” stated a MyLupusTeam member. “My joints feel better, and my flares are less frequent and severe. There’s less stress too and better air quality (except when the volcano sends fog).”
MyLupusTeam is a social network for people living with lupus and their loved ones. On MyLupusTeam, more than 222,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their experiences with others who understand the challenges of living with lupus.
Do you have lupus and find that the weather affects your symptoms? Would you recommend where you live to other people with lupus? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.