A fibro flare is a flare of symptoms that can occur at any time and can last for any duration. You may wake up feeling just fine but at mid-day suddenly feel as if you’ve been hit by a freight train. That feeling may last until you get a good night’s sleep or it may continue for days or weeks.
A fibro flare might include any combination of your symptoms, or it might just be a single symptom. When it comes to fibro, though, a flare will most likely include increased pain or fatigue, or both.
The one thing that’s certain is that fibro flares are unpredictable and frustrating.The one thing that's certain is that fibro flares are unpredictable and frustrating. #fibroflares #fibromyalgia Click To Tweet
What are symptoms of a fibro flare?
A fibro flare is an increase in fibromyalgia symptoms, primarily widespread body pain and fatigue. Often you will feel like you have the flu, just generally exhausted with pain all over.
Your symptoms during a fibro flare will be unique to you and probably even unique from flare to flare. Those symptoms may include any combination of the symptoms you experience with fibromyalgia, but will most likely include at least fatigue or pain – most likely both.
Often a flare in the major fibromyalgia symptoms (pain and fatigue) will also result in a flare in other symptoms including dizziness, inability to concentrate, digestive symptoms, and migraine.
How long to fibro flares last?
A fibro flare can last any length of time from hours to weeks, sometimes months or longer. During my early days with fibro, it seemed I lived in one long fibro flare that lasted for most of about two years. I’d have occasional “good” days where I felt pretty decent, and I can recall one really great month. But, during that time I was definitely in a flare more often than not.
Since I’ve gotten my symptoms under control, my flares are typically much shorter, rarely lasting longer than a day and most often just lasting for about half a day. Now, it’s most common that I will wake up feeling poorly, but by hydrating and not pushing myself I can regain energy and begin feeling better as the day wears on.
What causes a fibro flare?
A fibro flare can be caused by anything or seemingly nothing at all. Any change to your A few of the most common causes are:
- stress (physical or mental)
- weather and temperature changes
- diet (certain foods may be triggers for you)
- over-exertion (physical or mental)
- illness, injury, or surgery
- travel (or any change to your routine)
- sleep disruptions
- changes in treatment
- My 6 most common fibro flare triggers and how to deal with them
- Top 9 reasons for a fibro flare by Sue Ingebretson
- What’s the hidden cause of your fibro flare by Sue Ingebretson
How do you decrease fibro flares?
The first step to decreasing your fibro flares is to find your specific triggers. You may find it helpful to keep a journal, tracking what is going on in your life, the weather, and what you eat, as well as how your symptoms vary. This can help you find what you can adjust in your life to help reduce flares.
My biggest trigger was diet. When I changed my diet and removed the foods that were making me feel worse the fibro flares all but stopped. I went from barely getting off the couch to finally having energy. And, my pain levels decreased dramatically.
But, diet isn’t my only trigger. The others I’ve mentioned above are still in play. Sometimes they can be avoided and other times they can’t. I just do the best I can to control them.
The best thing I can do is limit stress – both physical and mental. I find that regular meditation is a great way to limit mental stress. Also, controlling my work environment, and how much I commit to.
Sometimes people can contribute to mental stress, so I find it important to be wise about who I spend time with, specifically avoiding toxic people and those who would simply take up my energy.
Pacing is an excellent way to reduce physical stress, and avoid over-exertion. It’s too easy to push ourselves and end up paying for it. Pacing simply means taking breaks regularly to sit down and really consider how you are feeling, and stopping when your body indicates the need.
It is largely believed that sleep issues may be at the root of fibromyalgia. With that in mind, one of the best things we can do is improve our sleep. If you’ve not had a sleep study yet, talk to your doctor about doing so to rule out sleep apnea or other major sleep disorders that can be treated.
How do you prepare for a fibro flare?Fibro flares often show up when we are least prepared and least expecting them, but doing a few key things when you are feeling well will help getting through those flares much easier. #fibroflares Click To Tweet
You may not be able to avoid flares completely but you can make getting through them a lot easier by preparing in advance.
- Keep your meds handy. The last thing you want to do when a flare hits is have to find the meds you need.
- Put together a fibro flare survival kit. Make sure it includes everything you would want or need when you aren’t feeling well. Include some easy snacks and maybe even a bottle of water along with your meds, heating pad, and some items to keep you distracted.
- Make sure you have electrolytes and Epsom salt on hand. A warm bath with Epsom salts can help ease the pain on on a flare day, and re-hydrating with electrolytes can help decrease the fatigue and shorten the flare.
- Make sure to have some easy to prepare meals on hand. You have to eat even in a flare, but the last thing you feel like doing is cooking. I try to keep a few frozen meals or prepped meals on hand for when these days hit.
How do you ease the symptoms of a fibro flare?
What you can do to help improve your symptoms during a fibro flare depends greatly on what symptoms you are dealing with. The best thing you can do is avoid fighting it, but sometimes you just don’t have the choice to rest during a flare.
What you can do to help get through the day with a fibro flare:
1 . Hydrate – drinking water will help flush any toxins that may be causing inflammation, but hydrating also improves blood flow, decreases fatigue, cools your body, lubricates your muscles and joints. Proper hydration can also help improve working memory, focus, and concentration.
2. Eat Right – Eating a poor diet will only make you feel worse. Try to eat a healthful diet full of whole foods, avoiding processed foods, sugars, and other foods that can cause inflammation.
Check out these 6 tips for working during a fibro flare.
How do you shorten fibro flares when they occur?
No matter how much I’ve improved my fibromyalgia symptoms as a whole, I still have bad days. You simply can’t avoid fibro flares completely. But, I’ve learned that a few simple steps can really help me shorten those flares when they occur.
1 . I focus on rest – if at all possible I don’t do anything when I’m in a flare. I just rest. I don’t work, I don’t clean, I don’t cook, I don’t do anything really engaging. I might watch TV or play a video game. I treat myself as I would with any other acute illness.
2 . I hydrate – I drink lots of water and also try to add in electrolytes. I avoid caffeine, even though the inclination would seem to be that caffeine would boost my energy. It’s counter-intuitive to drink caffeine when my goals are to hydrate and to rest.
3. I avoid stress – This may mean not answering my phone or looking at text messages, but it definitely means avoiding work and avoiding people who may eat away at my energy or make me feel stressed.
4. I ask for help if needed – This is something I struggle so much with. But, I am learning that it’s OK to ask for help and that there are those who will provide it as much as they can. Part of avoiding stress means knowing who to ask. So, if you don’t have someone who has proven they will help, it may be less stressful not to ask.
5. I keep a flare kit ready – A flare kit is any combination of items that help you get through bad day. This may include a hot pack, pain relievers, a tablet for reading or watching videos, a favorite playlist.
Fibro flares are probably the most frustrating aspect of fibromyalgia, because you never know when they will occur or how long they will last. Just knowing that they can occur can create stress and anxiety that can create a self-fulfilling prophecy – the flare itself.
But, making a few key changes can help you greatly reduce the likelihood that a fibro flare will occur, and proper planning can help you minimize fibro flares when the do occur.Making a few key changes can help you greatly reduce the likelihood that a fibro flare will occur, and proper planning can help you minimize fibro flares when the do occur. Click To Tweet
- 6 Tips for Surviving Work During a Fibro Flare
- ABC’s of Bouncing Back from a Flare
- Learn to Control Your Pain and Flares
- A Playlist for Fibromyalgia Flare Days
- How do you shorten fibro flares?
- What causes fibromyalgia flares? My top 6 causes
- The Flare Survival Kit
- 5 tips for getting through a fibro flare