A flare up is a temporary exacerbation of symptoms in a chronic illness. A fibromyalgia flare, for example, is a period of time when one or more of the symptoms of fibromyalgia gets worse for a time.
Sometimes it can be tricky to tell you’re in a flare as it can be a progressive worsening that lasts for a period of time such as postpartum. Other times you just wake up feeling like you were hit by a bus. On yet others if can feel like you just slide into being unwell, unexpectedly during a normal day.
Possible triggers for a fibromyalgia flare up
Lack of sleep
Some people are able to accurately pinpoint their triggers and try to avoid them. For others, like me, it tends to be a confluence of events but mostly my overdoing it.
My key tip for coping during a flare is having your plan in place for what to do.
My second key tip is to remember it will pass, and in the meantime you can do things to help yourself.
Fibromyalgia flare up planning
When my symptoms were much worse and I had flares more regularly I had a list of things I could do in ascending order of ability. I utilized this during the early and later parts of my pregnancies. In trimester one, in the midst of those weeks of intense fatigue and nausea my go-to was an audio book of Pride and Prejudice. I know the book well enough that it didn’t matter if I lost focus or fell asleep while listening with my eyes closed.
I have also found that it helps to have a few reminders set up for things that comfort me (I tend to forget even the simplest things that can help me during a flare). I will just wilt away and wonder why. Whereas if I get onto it early I can head off the worst of it.
It also helps to just immediately follow a plan rather than dwell on the severity of my symptoms. It is very easy to panic that these symptoms will never fade back to manageable levels or that the gains I have made over the past several years might be gone.
Here’s what some people in my groups said they do in a flare…
“Try and get home to my heat pack as quick as possible. Rest.”
“I alternate between heat and ice. I don’t find ibuprofen or creams help much, though Tiger Balms is a nice twenty minute distraction from the pain. Epsom salt baths don’t really help me either — actually make me feel irritable unfortunately. Also, I’m strange in that going for my regular walks usually makes me feel better — just for the length of the walk though, then the pain returns.”
“Sleep…a lot lol. And lots of baths/hot showers.”
“Take something for pain. Sleep. Do as little as possible.”
“Snuggle up on the sofa with my quilt, pillows and teddies. Watch TV and cuddle my cats. That’s how I deal with a flare haha xx.”