How to Deal With a Fibromyalgia Flare-Up
Living with fibromyalgia means living with a wide variety of symptoms that can wane and change from day-to-day. Most of us live with a constant, steady stream of symptoms; such as pain, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and more.
However, having fibromyalgia also means there will be occasional periods where fibromyalgia symptoms usually become more intense and last longer. During this time, we may also experience symptoms that we do not often have on a regular basis. This is commonly referred to as a fibromyalgia flare or a fibromyalgia flare-up.
A flare-up can be different from person to person, but for many, it means severe pain, with little to no let-up. A flare-up likely includes debilitating fatigue, even to the point of feeling weak and unable to stand or walk for much length of time.
Fibromyalgia flare-ups may also include headaches; worsened cognitive fatigue, or fibro fog; as well as increased mental distress, such as anxiety and/or depression. A flare-up can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks.
What Triggers Fibromyalgia Flare-Ups?
Numerous factors contribute to a flare-up. What triggers your flare may not be the same as what triggers another person’s fibro flare.
Once you can distinguish your triggers, you may be able to avoid them effectively and reduce the flare-ups that you have.
Pushing yourself past your limits may trigger a flare-up. Learning to pace yourself when it comes to physical activity and exercise is vital.
It is easy to push yourself too far and wind up paying for it later. Finding your limits and listening to your body can help to avoid this.
Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Stress can cause much damage to the body, including increasing pain and fatigue in those with fibromyalgia. Anxiety and depression also cause physical symptoms that could lead to a flare-up.
Finding methods to help you cope with stress, as well as finding appropriate treatment for any mental health problems, may help to reduce the number of fibro flares you have.
Fibromyalgia is closely linked to specific hormonal imbalances. This means that a change in your hormones can easily affect your symptoms.
Women with fibromyalgia may find that their menstrual period or the start of menopause can cause a fibro flare.
There are some foods that may affect some with fibromyalgia. Some have been affected by dairy, gluten, MSG, refined sugar, or caffeine. Also, any food sensitivities that you have could trigger a fibromyalgia flare.
Talk to your doctor about keeping a food diary or trying an elimination diet. This could help you to pinpoint which foods, if any, affect you.
Getting a good night sleep is vital for your body to repair itself and for proper function. However, it is common for people with fibromyalgia to have frequent disruptions of the sleep cycle, preventing them from getting restful and restorative sleep.
Not getting the right amount of sleep can trigger a flare-up. Finding a good sleep routine and sticking to it may help improve some of your symptoms and reduce fibro flares.
Other Triggers May Include
- Changes in the weather can often cause extra pain or other symptoms. The change in barometric pressure when it rains can affect us; as can changes in temperature.
- Illness or injury. Illnesses like the common cold or the flu may trigger a flare-up. Injuries can also cause a flare.
- Sensory overload. Many with fibromyalgia are extremely sensitive to lights, sounds, and even smells. For some sensory overload may trigger a flare-up.
- For some traveling can cause a fibromyalgia flare. Sitting too long while driving or flying; a change of sleep schedule or diet; or the stress of being in a different environment can have a negative effect on some, leading to a flare-up.
It can be difficult to know what has caused a fibromyalgia flare, and some have found it useful to keep a journal of their symptoms.
This can help to be more aware of what you are feeling and to notice any patterns there may be in your symptoms. Some apps are made for this purpose.
Next page: How to cope with a fibromyalgia flare-up and post-flare care.