What Is a Fibromyalgia Flare?

Flare-ups can happen without warning.

We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. There is a Sahara dust storm that made its way all the way to the U.S., triggering all kinds of reactions. It seems like it is always cold, flu, strep, or allergy season here in Texas. Even before coronavirus, I religiously wiped down grocery carts and washed/sanitized my hands constantly when in public places. No matter the circumstance – weather changes, travel, exposure to other people and their germs, stress, staying in, eating out – all of those things can add up to a compromised immune system. So when I start feeling like I am coming down with something, I have to pause and think – Am I getting sick? Or is it just a Fibromyalgia Flare?

“Flare-ups can happen without warning and are mostly likely to occur if a person with fibromyalgia is stressed or under a lot of pressure.

A flare-up can last anywhere from a few days to weeks at a time.”

From How to Recognize a Fibro Flare

Fibromyalgia and Flares

Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes widespread pain in the body and fatigue. It is considered a “syndrome” because it is a collection of symptoms, with no currently known cause, that come and go. Because it can wax and wane, people refer to the episodes as “flares.” And there are a variety of things that can trigger a flare:

  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Hormones
  • Lack of sleep
  • Diet
  • Weather
  • Physical activity (too little or too much)

Since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia almost 20 years ago, I have only been sick a handful of times. But I will get these flu or cold-like symptoms, which seem to be early-warning signs for me that a flare is coming:

  • Body aches, oftentimes in the neck
  • Run-down feeling
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

If no cold or flu materializes I realize it’s that “F” word again. Fibromyalgia. The debilitating “I just got run over by a bus” feeling of hurting all over accompanied extreme fatigue. The feeling can last for days.

There are a myriad of other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia that I often experience on a daily basis. Many of these symptoms I can deal with and go about my normal day. But a “flare” can knock you down, so thankfully I can go weeks or even months between flares.

Stress, lack of sleep, and working out too much have apparently caught up with me this week. I am currently on day 5 of this flare.

But I’m a Badass

I like to think I am a badass that can handle everything, but this seems to be my body’s way of reminding me I am human and need to slow down.

I figure if one of the biggest badass women around, Lady Gaga, can have fibromyalgia, then at least I am in good company.

“Chronic pain is no joke.” Lady Gaga

Handling a Flare

Everyone experiences fibromyalgia and flares differently. Some are sidelined in bed. Personally, I am not good at slowing down or resting, but years of experience has taught me when it is time to just stop so as not to prolong the episode, and practice some real self-care, along with medication as needed.

I extend myself some grace and ask for help. (Read more: The Challenge of Slowing Down.)

I boost my immune system with nutritious foods and extra Vitamin C. (Read more: Fight Fibromyalgia with Your Diet)

I take naps and epsom salt baths.

I cut out the more strenuous workouts and stick with a restorative yoga practice. (Read more: Why I Practice Yoga for Pain.)

And eventually the flare passes.

What are your favorite strategies for dealing with fibromyalgia? Do you have any early warning signs like me that a flare is about to happen? And is anyone else wondering how bad it would be if you had both a fibromyalgia flare AND COVID-19?

Author: Cynthia, My Inspired Fibro Life

Wife. Mom. Fibrowarrior. Joy seeker. Picture taker. Coffee drinker. Blogging about living with fibromyalgia and finding inspiration in every day life. Welcome to My Inspired Fibro Life.

6 thoughts on “What Is a Fibromyalgia Flare?”

  1. One thing COVID has done for me is to give myself permission to use a mask for the rest of my life, meaning, when I feel like I’m getting sick but don’t know is allergies or F or sick, as long as I have no fever, and I wear a mask, no more fear if infecting others, if I am indeed sick.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so true. While masks weren’t common in the US before COVID, people will hopefully use them going forward.

      On the first day I was feeling lousy I have to admit, the virus crossed my mind. I had been around a few people at work that had been tested and you just never know these days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know. About once a week… it’s like…. this time? Because of course I have doctor in person needed appointments. Every time our aunt coughs I think…. is that normal? (She is 99) but she only goes to doctor. So….


  2. I’ve had some really bad flare ups that’s knocked me off me feet, family stress, Covid19, cancelled events. I find regular naps and self care to be a big healer, hot baths, moisturiser, heat, good food and being gentle with myself are key to getting over these periods. Avoiding stress is so difficult for me right now though so stress avoidance is my new aim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This sounds exactly like me lately. The added stressors are a beast to deal with at times so we need to be extra good to ourselves. I have really watched my eating and tried to practice gratitude and self care daily. Really missing getting regular massages with all of this going on, though.

      Liked by 1 person

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