Fibromyalgia flare-ups are one of those things that come along to remind you that just when you thought you were getting a handle on managing your fibromyalgia, it can always seem to get worse for no reason.
The sudden intense pain and fatigue can immediately cancel any plans you had for that day or even week. And they make coping with your fibromyalgia much more difficult.
But what exactly is a fibromyalgia flare up? And what can you do about them?
What Is A Fibromyalgia Flare-Up?
Put simply, a fibromyalgia flare-up is a sudden increase in the level of your fibromyalgia symptoms. This flare-up can take the form of especially severe pain or increased fatigue. So essentially, a fibromyalgia flare-up is just a period of time when the basic level of pain, fatigue, and mental fog you normally feel with fibromyalgia is much worse than it usually is.
So if you suddenly feel much more tired than usual, feel intense pain in a certain part of your body, or feel like you can’t focus on anything, you’re likely having a fibromyalgia flare-up.
While no one is sure exactly what is happening during a fibromyalgia flare up that makes these symptoms worse, there are definitely a number of things that seem to trigger them.
What Causes A Fibromyalgia Flare-Up?
There are a lot of different things that can cause a fibromyalgia flare up. The weather, for instance, is a common trigger. Sudden shifts in the pressure in the air cause fibromyalgia to suddenly get worse for a lot of people.
Diet can also play a major role. Some people with fibromyalgia can’t eat certain foods without triggering a fibromyalgia flare up, which makes identifying and avoiding those foods a constant concern.
Another trigger is a lack of sleep. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have identified that a lack of sleep is a major contributing factor in fibromyalgia symptoms. Of course, we all know that fibromyalgia makes it pretty difficult to get a good night’s rest, but a few nights tossing and turning more than usual can definitely trigger a flare-up.
Too much exercise can also trigger flare-ups. Now, exercise is great for helping manage your fibromyalgia, but make sure not to push yourself too hard, as too much exertion triggers flare-ups.
But the most common trigger by far is probably stress. Doctors have known for a long time that stress is bad for your body in many ways. It can cause weight gain and shorten your lifespan. And being stressed out is also the surest way to trigger fibromyalgia flare ups in a lot of people.
What Can You Do About It?
There are a few things you can do that may help to make your fibromyalgia flare-ups easier to deal with.
First, and most obvious, you want to avoid the types of things that trigger flare-ups in the first place. Make sure you’re sticking to as regular a sleeping schedule as you can. The extra sleep will help prevent flare-ups. Second, avoid stress as much as possible. Obviously, life is stressful, especially when you have fibromyalgia, but anything you can do to help you be less stressed is going to help enormously with avoiding flare-ups. Meditation, yoga, or even just breathing exercises can all help you feel more centered and less stressed.
But if you can’t avoid a flare up, there are also things you can do to help tone down the pain you’re feeling.
Begin with your medication. If your doctors prescribed something to help you deal with flares, take it regularly. Don’t skip any doses, even if you feel like you’re getting better. A flare can suddenly get worse after it begins to feel better. It’s also helpful to take medication if you feel like a fibromyalgia flare-up might be coming on. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
It’s also a good idea to be proactive about managing your daily life when you’re dealing with fibromyalgia flare-ups. Let people around you know that you’re having a tough time. Don’t take on any added responsibility at work or home. And don’t do anything or deal with people that could make you feel stressed out. Stress will only make your symptoms worse.
Set personal boundaries with the people who depend on you. Let them know that you need them to let you rest.
Catch Up On Sleep
And if you can, use the opportunity to catch up on sleep. Getting some rest will really help your fibromyalgia flare ups resolve themselves faster and be less severe. While it’s not easy to sleep through a flare up, you may be able to get medication that will help you sleep with a doctor. But even if you can’t, any rest you can get is the best way to manage a flare-up.
Manage Your Diet
Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet. You may be tempted during a bad flare up to crawl into bed and eat easy-to-prepare junk food. While that’s perfectly understandable, it won’t help your symptoms. Maintaining a healthy diet with plenty of balanced nutrients and vitamins will help you resolve your flare-ups and prevent them in the future.
These tips can help you deal with flare-ups. But if you get flare-ups regularly, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor. A doctor who specializes in fibromyalgia will know about the most effective treatments, and can even give you some advice about how to manage your daily life to better avoid flare-ups. You can find a list of doctors who specialize in your area at the National Fibromyalgia Research Foundation.
Even if you already have a doctor, finding one who deals with fibromyalgia patients regularly can be helpful. They will be more aware of the best treatments and research.