What Can Trigger MS Flares?
People with MS can experience relapses ( episodes, exacerbations, attacks or flare-ups) which are periods of time where the disease is active, causing new damage to the nervous system and possibly creating new symptoms. These relapses can occur at any time but the stronger and healthier the body is, the better the odds are at fighting off the event or the effects of the event.
But a person with MS can experience a flare-up without it being a relapse. In other words, their condition (present symptoms) may temporarily worsen even though there is no damage currently being done to the central nervous system due to a relapse.
Here are several different triggers that can lead to a worsening of MS symptoms. Close attention should be paid to trying to avoid them.
Fatigue Fatigue is the most common symptom of people with MS. When a person with MS pushes too hard and "over does it", it can lead to a worsening of their other symptoms because of a weakened body state due to exhaustion. Fatigue can affect the person with MS in such a way that they can become totally drained physically, mentally and emotionally making even the simplest of tasks difficult to handle. It is very important to know your limits and pace yourself. The good news is, that with consistent exercise, a person's strength and stamina will grow giving them the energy that will allow them to do more and to do it for longer periods of time.
Stress Stress, especially emotional stress, can lead to a weakened state that will allow any or all of your symptoms to worsen. Too much stress can lead to fatigue, mental confusion and even depression. We cannot always avoid situations that are stressful, so we must prepare ourselves to meet them. This can be done using relaxation techniques and meditation as well as regular exercise and proper nutrition. It is also helpful to surround yourself with people who are there to support you. Read more about how to deal with stress.
Heat Heat affects many people with MS in an adverse way. It is important to stay cool and hydrated. Avoid activities that will get you over-heated and limit your time in the hot sun. Hot and humid days can be killer on a person with MS. Those of us who do not have MS know what high humidity does to us; just imagine what it can do to someone who is already struggling with fatigue and being run-down. Stay cool!
Infection Infection weakens the immune system and when this happens in someone whose immune system is already compromised, it can be devastating. To fight infection we can do three things; -Avoid infection (stay away from contaminants) -Practice Cleanliness -Keep the body strong (Proper exercise and Nutrition)
Smoking Don't smoke. Enough said!
The best defense against MS flares and their possible results is to keep your body strong and healthy! The only way to do this is with a consistent exercise regimen and proper nutrition. There is no magic pill or quick-fix. It will take discipline and determination on your part but it will be worth all of the effort!