The keys to avoid a fibromyalgia flare up are exercise, sleep, careful diet, and adherence to medication regiments. Journal to keep track of possible triggers is highly encouraged.
Because fibromyalgia cannot be cured, the key to management is to avoid a fibromyalgia flare up. Avoiding a flare up requires diligence, attention to detail, and discipline. Skipping a medication dose, cheating on a diet, or “forgetting” to exercise all increase the chances of a flare up. The following are things that should be considered part of the daily regimen to avoid a fibromyalgia flare up.
The process of finding the right medication to treat fibromyalgia is a long and arduous one for many. There is a great deal of trial and error involved because every individual responds to the medications differently. Further, because it takes up to eight weeks to know if a particular drug is going to work, the whole process can take a very long time.
Once a regimen is set it is essential to stick with it because missing a few doses can lead to flare ups. Simply restarting a medication may not be adequate though because levels in the body may have dropped too low to rebound quickly. Thus, you would be looking at another eight week wait for relief. In addition, stopping a medication in fibromyalgia seems to lead to resistance, meaning the same medication may not work when you start taking it again.
Exercise and Sleep
Exercise and sleep are the two most important components of any strategy designed to avoid a fibromyalgia flare up. Light aerobic exercise and yoga have both been shown in clinical studies to improve pain and reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Good sleep hygiene is critical to avoid a fibromyalgia flare up.
Stress leads to muscle tension and muscle tension leads to fibromyalgia flare ups. To avoid a fibromyalgia flare up caused by stress, individuals should exercise, practice meditation, and engage in cognitive behavioral therapy. Several studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between meditation and reduced fibromyalgia pain.
The difficulty in designing a diet to avoid a fibromyalgia flare up is that individuals have different sensitivities to different foods. Some people find caffeine must be avoided at all costs while other people find that the form in which the caffeine is imbibed is important. Despite differences among individuals, there are several foods which have been consistently linked with flare ups of fibromyalgia.
Foods to Consume
- Proteins – particularly lean proteins such as eggs, tofu, poultry, and fish.
- Healthy fats – olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and avocados.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – these are thought to reduce inflammation and are found in flax seed and in most fish and seafood.
Foods to Avoid
- Aspartame – found in most diet soft drinks and other artificially sweetened foods.
- MSG – monosodium glutamate is often found in Asian food.
- Alcohol – this is thought to be due to the dehydration that tends to occur with the consumption of alcohol. It is recommended that if alcohol is consumed, it is balanced by the consumption of other fluids.
Maintaining a reasonable work schedule and keeping up with friends and family are both important to avoid a fibromyalgia flare up. The idea is to maintain social relationships and other social connections that make any individual happy and improve mood. Studies have shown that people with strong social connections live longer, are healthier, and have less pain than people with fewer social connections.
To avoid a fibromyalgia flare up, it is important to keep track of the things that do and do not exacerbate the condition. Most experts recommend taking 10 minutes every day to write down the activities you engaged in, the medications you took, how well you slept, what you ate, and how you felt on that particular day. Doing so will allow you to look back over time and determine what your particular triggers are. Most experts agree that it takes approximately 48 hours for an event to trigger a flare up. As such, if it is not documented somewhere, it is quite probable that you will not be able to make the correlation between trigger and flare.
To avoid a fibromyalgia flare up one must be dedicated to lifestyle change and to documenting their condition. Unfortunately, fibromyalgia can permeate every aspect of an individual’s life. By making simple lifestyle changes and keeping track of the things which trigger flare ups, it is possible for individuals to slowly take back their lives and to avoid a fibromyalgia flare up for long periods of time.