Triggers and how they cause flares

First, this is a recap of previously agreed upon flare triggers:

Do you notice a trend; I do! I see that anything that places a stress on your system and requires that your body physically or emotionally adjust to a new set of circumstances has the potential to cause a flare of your symptoms.

So, how can each of the above triggers, throw you into a flare of your symptoms?  All of them put a physical or emotional stress on your system, but there are additional ways worth mentioning

  • not enough rest: Sleep deprivation is harmful to the immune system HOW? T cells are decreased when we get too little rest and when T cells are decreased or are decreasing, the body has a harder time fighting infection.
  • pregnancy places a stress on the body and if women become pregnant 6-8 months after symptoms become quiescent, they’re are less likely to develop a lupus flare during pregnancy. This means they need to plan pregnancies
  • when lupus patients have infections, they are likely to be started on medications. If you remember, STARTING a medication is an adjustment the body needs to make and rapidly starting a medication can trigger a flare
  • when people are overworked, they get too little sleep which can worsen their symptoms
  • emotional stress often causes us not to be able to sleep, to lie awake thrashing. When we don’t get enough sleep, T cells of the immune system have a harder time fighting infection.
  • ultraviolet light can trigger a flare Normally, an intact immune system rids us of aging or dying skin cells. Because sunburn can cause cell death and enough sunburn can cause enough inflammation so that more than ‘a simple’ sunburn results. UV rays can cause enough inflammation so that not just the skin, but the joints, muscles and internal organs are affected. FLARE
  • surgery: is a physical stress on the system and an emotional stress on the body, both of which trigger flares. Also, surgery can introduce medications (like antibiotics or anesthetics) not taken before, which can trigger a lupus flare. A cortisone injection (intravenous or intramuscular) is sometimes given.
  • viruses cause trigger lupus flares because they are a kind of infection and exposure to any infection causes the immune system to work ‘overtime.’

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to prevent flares, but knowing what can cause flares and how flares are triggered, gives some ideas as to how they can be managed. We’ll address that in another post.


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Those evil flares

The title is a pretty short question which begs a pretty short answer. But, that begs the question, WHAT IS A FLARE? A flare is an exacerbation of the lupus symptoms that are normally experienced. But it is important to remember that what causes a flare of my symptoms may be completely different than what causes your flares.

Lupus symptoms can wax and wane, come and go: or be quiescent. Physicians are hesitant to use the term, “in remission,” because the term can connote that lupus is a CURABLE disease which it is not.

Flares might be triggered by one or MORE of the situations that we encounter in everyday life. Some common ones, in no particular order, are:

Researchers and practioners tend to agree that these are bonafide triggers of a flare. But again, it needs to be remembered that what triggers my flares may be, and likely is, different than the cause of yours. In another post we’ll talk about how each of these can cause a flare.



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Pain Management tips for chronic pain

Tips to Finding a Pain Management Solution When You Struggle With Chronic Pain

For individuals who suffer from a chronic condition such as fibromyalgia, neuropathy, or multiple sclerosis, finding effective pain management can be harder than it sounds. When you live with one of these conditions or one that is similar, receiving a diagnosis is rarely the only obstacle that you will face. However, with a few tips, you may be more successful at getting the help that you need to address your painful symptoms.

One of the first steps to getting a solution is to find a doctor that is ready to help you down a long road. Different doctors may be more experienced in treating numbness, tingling, or shooting pains while others may have success with aching. Often, finding the most effective pain management is a process that can take months and even years of trial and error before reliable relief can be found.

Start with recommended physicians or specialists and see which have the qualities that you need in your care team. Look for patience, understanding, and avoid those medical professionals that seem to be more interested in getting you out the door with a prescription rather than improving your overall health.

Especially with MS and fibromyalgia, it can be difficult to pinpoint the most likely causes of a flare up. Keeping track of daily symptoms can make adjusting your treatment more effective. Making honest entries each day may help you identify patterns or triggers overtime. Although it still may take several months in order to find the solution that is right for you, having a record of how your body reacts to different types of treatment can reduce confusion.

Finally, do not give up. Few people find the right doctor or the right treatment on their first, second, or third try. Joining a support group may be an effective way to stay motivated when your symptoms worsen or effective management of your pain seems impossible to achieve.

Finding pain management when you live with chronic pain can be difficult, but it is not impossible. By applying these tips, you may be more successful in your efforts to improve your quality of living from one day to the next.


About the author – Dr. James Lin specializes in chronic pain management.  He studied at UCLA and currently publishes several blogs and articles with pain management tips. Follow him on Twitter @DrJamesTLin


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