Is Lupus Remission Possible?
Lupus symptoms and flares are challenging. People living with lupus work toward better symptom management. Remission is a goal of many.
Several of the 70 questions in the 2nd Lupus In America survey addressed remission.
What is remission?
Unlike some diseases, there are no clear guidelines for lupus remission. Remission is when symptoms and markers of the disease go away for some time. There is no medically established timeframe of how long amounts to remission for lupus.1
The In America survey revealed that 16 percent of respondents consider themselves in remission. That 16 percent also answered the question, "How long have you been in remission?" Around 65 percent said they had been in remission for 2 years or less:
- 26 percent: less than 6 months
- 25 percent: 6 months to 1 year
- 16 percent: between 1 and 2 years
- Only 11 percent of respondents who considered themselves in remission said they had been in remission 10 years or more.
Lupus is most commonly a relapsing-remitting disease. The disease presents with periods of flares. Flares are times when symptoms worsen. Symptoms include:1-2
Flares are unpredictable. Lupus is discernible in the body without active symptoms in between flares. Periods without symptoms may or may not be considered remission. More than half of the In America survey respondents said they have never been in remission.1-2
Time between flares
The length of time between flares also varies. Some people experience flares multiple times in a year. Others can go a year or more without a flare.1,3
The survey asked, "Over the past year, approximately how many lupus flares have you experienced?"
- 7 percent of respondents said they had no flares in the previous year, with 5 percent noting they were in remission
- 11 to 13 percent said they had 2, 3, or 4 flares in the last year
- 28 percent said they had 10 or more flares over the past year
How do I achieve remission?
Each person's journey with lupus is unique. Remission may or may not be possible for everyone.1
Working with your doctor to find a treatment plan is essential. It can take years to find the right treatment plan for you. While remission may not be possible, symptoms are manageable. With an appropriate treatment plan, you can have fewer flares. Symptoms can be less severe.1
What if I start having flares again?
Even when you achieve remission, lupus can become active again later. Around one-third of survey respondents said, "My lupus had gone into remission but is once again active."
Coming out of remission feels discouraging. If it happens, communicate with your doctor as soon as possible. Together, evaluate what, if anything, may have changed. It could be time to try new treatments.1
Continuing with treatment
If you do achieve remission, it is vital to work with your doctor on the next steps. You should never stop treatment without getting your doctor's approval. Even in remission, you may need to remain on certain drugs. You may be able to decrease the dosages for some. Maintaining your plan with your doctor helps to keep you in remission.1
The 2021 Lupus In America survey was conducted online from February through March 2021. The survey was completed by 836 people.
Have you experienced adverse side effects to your lupus medications?