I Asked and You Answered
In this three part series we’ll be investigating pain flares: how it varies for each individual, what triggers them, how to prevent and also cope with them. (You can find links for the other two at the end of this post.)
Pain is a private and personal experience, one which no one else can feel for you, no matter how empathetic they may be. Often the best thing a person can do is to acknowledge that it’s impossible to comprehend, but validate the existence of the pain. Then, find ways to help make the sufferer’s life a little bit easier. This can also vary from person to person.
In this first part of the series, we’ll take a look at what the biggest flareup triggers are for people living with various chronic conditions. As you will see, there’s a common theme running through the responses.
My Biggest Trigger for a Flareup is:
“Sitting/standing more than an hour at a stretch and emotional stress.”
– Sreetama –
“Stress, including positive stress, and feeling overwhelmed by it.”
– Alison –
“Pushing my body to do too much physically.”
– Rachel Hill –
“Situations involving external stimuli. Either too much light or noise. Sometimes various noise happening at the same time such as a conversation and the radio and/or television.”
– Tom Seaman –
“Overdoing it. Walking too much. Doing too much work around the house. I want to pace all the time, but sometimes my brain thinks ‘Hey we can do this’ and my body is like ‘What the hell, man!'”
– Nikki Albert –
“Weather. Specifically, it seems like I’m most likely to flare as a bad storm is moving in. Once it hits I start to feel better.”
– Julie Ryan –
“Stress and lack of self care.”
– Candace –
“Overexertion or stress.”
– Jo Moss –
“Exercise. It never fails to flare the worst muscles spasms due to my peripheral nerve disease.”
– Kyra –
– Michelle –
– Heather –
“Over-straining my body.”
– Jenny –
“It has to be doing too much, whether it’s pushing too hard at the gym or doing too many chores in a short amount of time. Doing so, only leads to increased pain and fatigue culminating in a massive flare.”
– Rhiann –
– Lin Shuwen –
“Unexpected change of plan.”
– Fibro Jedi –
“Stress, usually psychological but can be physical, I push too hard sometimes and get ahead of what this disease will allow my body to do.”
– Ray –
– Jessica –
“With chronic UTI, a flare up occurs when bacteria are released from within the cells that form the bladder lining (urothelium). This causes the bacteria to ‘wake up’ from their dormant state and multiply in the urine. This often results in an attack of acute cystitis symptoms (a flare). Chronic UTI sufferers commonly report triggers that ‘wake’ the bacteria include sexual intercourse, internal gynaecological procedures, vigorous exercises such as horse riding and cycling, stress, bowel movements, alcohol and some foods that individuals are sensitive to.”
– Chronic UTI Australia –
“Stress and taking on too much.”
– Effie –
“Chemical scents and fragrances (and some “natural” ones too, like cigarette and marijuana smoke, and some essential oils).”
– Sara Russell –
“I have two major triggers for flares. One is activity. If I do too much or surpass my daily step count, I can count on a flare hitting within 48 hours. My second trigger which is just as important as the first is stress. When I’m stressed, flares hit much quicker and equally as hard as activity-related flares do.”
– Carrie Kellenberger –
“Using more energy than I’ve got, but particularly if there’s been some kind of stress or pressure involved.”
– Julie Holliday –
“Having a shower or bath!”
– Chronically Hopeful Char –
– Em –
“For me it’s pushing myself too far physically. I work and I like to keep fit but I’m not always great at keeping in check with my body. I’m terrible with doing too much, pushing my limits too far and ending up with seizures and pain flares.”
– Ruthy –
– Alice hightower –
“My biggest trigger for a flare up is absolutely stress. Initially it just starts off by me feeling fatigued and down, but then it will often flare up into a full-blown MS relapse. As a result I try and minimise stress as much as possible through meditation and yoga.”
– Jenny Clarkson –
“Aside from stress and general moving it would be overdoing it. That changes depending on the day. Overdoing it could be cleaning the house or on bad days it could be getting out of bed.”
– Monica Laipple –
“Stress – physical + mental/emotional.”
– Kirsten Cliff Elliot –
“Stress, especially grief.”
– Amanda Malachesky –
“Stress and dehydration are two big triggers for me.”
– Audrey Housworth –
– Hell’s Bells and Mast Cells –
“Stress, whether it be from change, worry, or exhaustion, is my biggest trigger.”
– Lynn Clark –
– Taylor –
“Doing too much without giving myself enough rest breaks between activities.”
– Pamela Jessen –
– Lotty –
“Any kind of stress. Work stress tends to be the worst of the lot; I guess I tense my body up subconsciously which ‘holds’ all that inflammation in. By the end of the day that becomes painful, and by the next morning my joints and muscles are sore and limited in function. Usually around the three month mark of working any full-time job I end up in hospital from worse side effects that may require surgery or a high dose of steroids.”
– Sheryl –
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this roundup. Keep an eye out for part two and three, where we’ll learn what everyone’s coping strategies are!
The article is based on each individual’s own experiences, and nothing should be taken as medical advice. Always be sure to check with your doctor before you start on any new treatment or protocol, whatever that may be.
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Wow what a great roundup. I feel much less alone now. So many folks gave replies very close to what I would have said. Looking forward to part 2.
Hello! Yes we do share such similar experiences, don’t we? It’s a sad thing, but also comforting to know that we are not alone. Part 2 and 3 are out – you can click on them in the post links too 🙂
I can relate to most of these. Stress is a big one and it seems like often I am in a state of chronic stress which means I have to constantly try to de-stress and manage that. I think, from my past experiences, that my stress threshold is low… and as a result I burn out faster than most people. I have to really watch that.
I found a bit of me in most of those replies. Whether it’s external triggers of sound, smell, over-doing it, shower – I think we all exist in all these answers. I really enjoyed reading all these perspectives.
This is great – I love seeing compilations like this that caption a perspective of our wider community 🙂 My biggest trigger is a lack of self-care, which ultimately stems from not checking in with myself often enough. If I don’t tune in to my body then I end up either exercising too hard, sitting for too long, or having too much screen time.
Thanks Jason – it’s the aim of my blog, too, to view things from various perspectives – life and chronic illness and pain are so individual and vast! Would you like me to add your trigger into this list too, btw? 😀
I want to cry, seeing all the triggers of a flare. Almost every one got a nod as I read them. Certainly helps to know there are others fighting the battle. Stay strong.
Aww…yes there are many people who are going through similar situations. You are definitely not alone. Sending hugs! x
I love to see everyone’s responses. The sun has been my biggest trigger lately, which is such a bummer! I just want to go outside for a walk on a beautiful day without stressing about being in the sunshine
That really is a bummer 🙁 I remember slathering on loads of sunblock before school every morning (in those days there weren’t any ‘non sticky’ formulations!), and it felt and smelt so gross especially living in a humid climate. Then I realised that I wasn’t affected by the sun so much (it can still trigger a major flare, according to my doctor), but I am so so grateful that I can just go in the sun for walks. Sending you lots of good thoughts, and hoping you can get a nice walk soon! x
That’s a great collaboration there. Stress and overworking oneself seem to be the common triggers.
Definitely. Stress translates and seeps into many different aspects of life!
What a great collection! There is certainly a theme here. Stress is a major trigger for me too, fortunately my family arrange things in such a way that I have hardly any stress in my life – so yes, my main trigger would be my bathing days. But any over exertion or loud noises, stress or excitement can also cause pain to flare and it’s not always easy to control those things. Thanks for this important post – healthy people really need to be reading this, open their eyes to the dangers of stress and the harm it does to the body!