A flare of fibromyalgia
A flare of fibromyalgia is a transient rise in the proportion or extent of the symptoms. A few flares last for only a few days but the other ones may continue for various weeks or even months. The best possible way to prevent a fibromyalgia flare is the detection of the causative agent, and if possible the removal of that stimulus, or avoidance of the situations that trigger those. A flare is the worsening or exacerbation of the symptoms of fibromyalgia during which the patients might experience a worsened form of the older symptoms or they might even come across altogether new symptoms as well.
Duration and action time of flare
It must be noted however that a flare might not occur up to 48 hours after the triggering event. This indicates that even if a patient has had encountered a momentary stimulus, and even after the removal of that stimulus, flare symptoms might show up within 48 hours of exposure. The action time of the flare helps understand the nature and the possible duration of the flare-ups. A triggering event may present itself to a patient, the body; however, may choose to respond to the flare immediately or anytime within 2 days of exposure to that trigger. This mechanism explains why some fibromyalgia sufferers tend to experience the flares even after the removal of apparent disturbing or stimulating factors because the body chooses to react after some time of the exposure within the time limit of 2 days.
Could the flares last for a month?
The simplest answer to this question is yes. But it requires a deep background look at the triggers, their levels, extent, and duration of exposure. As we’re aware that a flare-up is the worsening of the symptoms. We might think of it as an allergy, and as it so happens that allergy is stimulated by an allergen, and will not go away until the allergen does. Similarly, the flare may last for a single hour or even for 2-3 months, depending upon the severity or potency of the trigger, since some stimuli generate a more severe response compared to the other ones. The duration of the flare will also be dependent on the exposure hours or time to the trigger. In this case, a weaker trigger exposed for longer periods may also result in flare-ups lasting for months.
Flare duration and trigger relation
As already stated, there exists a direct relationship between the worsening of symptoms, or flare and the triggering agents. The nature, potency, exposure time, level of the trigger, all determine the duration of a flare. The trigger and flare duration could be better explained by:
Any alteration in the weather is the commonest reason for short-term fibromyalgia flares as the body does get acclimated to the weather after some time. It is often noticed that whenever the readings on a barometer shift or a new front pass, the symptoms of the people with fibromyalgia become severe and increase especially the pain and discomfort. The good news is, most of these flares usually last for about 1-3 days.
Overdoing the physical work
Whenever fibromyalgia patients start working out a lot on a good day, likely, they have already triggered a flare. The good days for fibromyalgia patients are defined as the days when the symptoms are either negligible or absent and energy levels are also moderate to high. On such days, naturally, the fibromyalgia sufferers would want to work-out or understandably do all the home chores that they’d been procrastinating for so long due to their fatigue and pain for the past few weeks or months. But the irony is over-exerting oneself even on the good days will prove to be detrimental for one’s flare. The patients generally complain that for overworking on a good day they have to pay back with severe and long-lasting symptoms on the bad ones. It is always recommended to gradually increase the activity and workout levels and never to overexert oneself or overdo any activity.
Illness or injury
Any illness, injury, or infection be it bacterial, fungal, or viral can trigger the flare-up of fibromyalgia. The reason for this is, during any injury, infection, or illness, the metabolism, enzymes, and hormonal levels in the body significantly change, and for fibromyalgia patients, this change is manifested in the severity of the symptoms or flare. It is interesting to know that sometimes something as benign as the common cold can trigger the flare. In this case, the flare will last as long as the illness continues, which may take weeks, days, or even months.
Various women have reported that they experienced a severity in fibromyalgia or the flares during their menstrual cycle or menopause. As for the menstrual cycle, these flares may last from 5-9 days. The women with fibromyalgia nearing menopause must consult their doctors regarding the suitability of enzyme replacement therapy, and the possibility of getting flare-ups.
Improper sleep cycle
The absence of proper restorative and stage 4 sleep serves as a trigger for fibromyalgia. Getting a peaceful and sound sleep for fibromyalgia sufferers seems near to impossible. However, disruptions in the sleep cycle, that too on regular basis over a duration of time, will badly flare the fibromyalgia. A mis-balanced sleep cycle naturally triggers fatigue and other fibromyalgia symptoms. The most important recommendation for fibromyalgia patients is to look for a sleep routine for themselves, which works the best for them (keeping in view the symptoms and flares), and then stick to that routine.
Alterations in the treatment
Fibromyalgia patients do change their medicines from time to time to help with their symptoms and improve their condition; however, what they don’t realize most of the time is that their symptoms or flares are being triggered due to the ongoing frequent changes in the medications. It is challenging to determine if the flare is triggered by medicine or if it was just a coincidence. It will require a duration of trial and error-based ruling out, after consulting with the doctor to determine if the medication change is the real culprit, or if it is being blamed in the place of some other stimulus that caused the flare.