The Worst Culprits Causing Symptom Flare-ups
For myself, I have found certain things that tend to result in flares of my fibromyalgia symptoms. With Fibromyalgia I have found that each person is different, but some of these might be more common. So, in the hope of helping my fibro-friends, here’s a list of what I try to avoid that I have found to result in flares for me.
By using a daily log or mapping application, you can also isolate triggers for yourself. It is important to note these and do your best to avoid them. As prevention is the best cure, I will list what I believe are the best ways to prevent a flare first, followed by things you can do to help calm a flare when you have one.
Of course, there is also the factor of moderation. Many of the items on my list might not cause a flare for me if I only indulge in small amounts.
Here’s my Flares Culprit List:
- SUGAR and SIMPLE CARBS – I do best when I eliminate these completely from my diet. I replace sugar with Stevia, monk fruit, yacon syrup and some light use of coconut sugar. Depending on what I am trying to sweeten, I use different sweeteners that work best. (See other blog posts just done on alternatives to sugar).
- ALCOHOL – I stay away from any sweet drinks, never drink on an empty stomach and never more than two drinks. When I have violated any of these points I have always been very sorry. Alcohol raises and crashes your blood sugar, increases inflammation and often causes worsening of symptoms. A very small glass of red wine (more like half a glass) has some antioxidant benefits and can be tolerated.
- STRESS – I can feel the cortisol pumping into my system when I am stressed. Removing as many possible stress factors from my daily life has helped tremendously. Here’s more info on what causes stress and how to bring down stress levels. https://fibromyalgiafree.org/fibromyalgia-and-stress/
- BAD SLEEP – Not getting enough sleep or a lot of disturbed sleep, particularly if over several days, can send me into a flare. Here are some remedies for sleep problems. https://fibromyalgiafree.org/improve-sleep/
- CAFFEINE – Caffeine initiates the production of insulin, which in turn lowers your blood sugar and leaves you with less energy. You will find that decaffeinated coffee and teas are also quite good, and once you are through some initial withdrawals, you can learn to live without caffeine. If you have to have coffee, then drink only organic decaf coffees and you really can’t tell the difference. I say organic as many coffees can have high concentrations of dangerous pesticides, so organic is important. I use to heavily caffeinate myself to try and stay awake and I paid the price for this short and long term.
- STAYING UP LATE OR DISRUPTED SLEEP – Getting good sleep has been a really important aspect of not getting flares. If I stay up late, then I often have trouble sleeping, so I have found it better to find my sweet spot of time for bed and stick to it.
- SMOKING OR OTHER TOXINS – Smoking cigarettes or being around someone who smokes often, or if you live in or frequent an area with high levels of pollution, can result in a harmful toxic load that your body has to try and deal with. Living in an area with bad water similarly had very bad effects on my health. See more about this in another chapter.
- TRAVELING – Whether by car or plane I usually have some backlash after a medium to longer trip. Here are some important travel tips. https://fibromyalgiafree.org/tips-for-traveling/
- OVER-DOING IT. When I feel good I tend to try and get a ton of things done and have often ended up doing too much and over-taxing my body resulting in backlash either later that day or the next. On good days, remember to pace yourself and not try and do too much. The same applies to exercise. Don’t get over-ambitious. Start gradually and build up slowly.
The key is to learn what tends to trigger these flare ups and use self-discipline or workable remedies to avoid bad flare ups. The best is a stable, steady environment with no extra stressors, no radical changes in schedule, diet, activity or stress and no toxic load on the body. However, because we don’t live in an ideal world and this is not always possible, it is vital that you put in some control over your environment to avoid those factors that can knock you on your butt.
Hope this helps to prevent some of those horrible fibromyalgia flares!
What to do if you do get a FLARE
Here’s what I do when I do get a bad flare-up of symptoms:
- Wet Heat – Take a long hot bath or hot shower. If you can soak in a hot bath, use epsom salts (not the kind that have added fragrances, but just straight epsom salts). Soak as long as you can.
- Drink a lot of water and herbal tea. No caffeine, no sodas.
- Resist the heavy temptation for comfort food. Soup, oatmeal and lighter foods help.
- Rest as much as you can.
- Avoid bright lighting.
- Heat packs on the most painful muscles. Thermacare packs heat up and have sticky ends, making it easy to put a heat pack on under your clothing.
- Get a massage if you can and if it is helpful to you. Some people are not able to tolerate them, some get a lot from them.
- If you are on an antiviral regimen, take one.
- Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant. I take magnesium daily and it helps a lot. But don’t take too much as you may be running to the bathroom. Magnesium Glycinate has less impact on the intestines. You can also rub magnesium oil into the bottoms of your feet to avoid it going through digestive tract at all.
- CBD oil, Boswellia and Cat’s Claw help with pain and inflammation. I do use advil if it gets really bad, but try to avoid if at all possible.