If you are one of the estimated 1 million Americans who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), then you know that a flare up can be debilitating. A CFS flare up can leave you feeling exhausted, sore, and mentally foggy. In this blog post, we will discuss what causes a CFS flare up, how to recognize the signs, and steps you can take to help minimize their impact.
First, Do You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
CFS is an illness characterized by persistent fatigue and lack of energy that cannot be explained by any underlying medical condition. In order to be diagnosed with CFS, you must be experiencing these symptoms for at least six months. Other common symptoms of CFS include difficulty concentrating or remembering things, muscle and joint pain, headaches, and sleep disturbances.
Though CFS and ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. ME is a more severe form of CFS, with more intense and disabling symptoms. ME is a chronic, multi-system disorder that affects the neurological and immune systems. Patients with ME often experience cognitive dysfunction, autonomic nervous system dysregulation and post-exertional malaise. Generally, ME is more severe than CFS and often requires more intensive treatments.
Causes of CFS Flare Up
A chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) flare up can be caused by many different things. Stressful situations and physical or mental exhaustion can both contribute to a flare up. Not getting enough sleep, eating an unhealthy diet, or even just having too much on your plate can all leave you more vulnerable to a flare up. In some cases, environmental factors such as pollen levels or changes in temperature can also trigger a CFS flare.
It is important to use a tracking app to monitor factors that may contribute to a flare up, as this can help you identify patterns and take steps to reduce their frequency or severity. The CareClinic patient app is a great tool for this because it allows you to track everything from sleep patterns and diet to exercise, medication use, and more.
Signs and Symptoms of CFS Flares
The signs and symptoms of a CFS flare can vary from person to person but generally include extreme fatigue, muscle pain and soreness, mental fog, difficulty concentrating and focusing, headaches, dizziness, nausea and more. It is important to be aware of your body’s limits so that you can recognize the signs of an oncoming flare up before it becomes too debilitating.
Most women state that they experience a worsening of symptoms each month due to the hormonal fluctuations that occur around their period. While men also experience CFS flares, the underlying cause may be different. They may be more likely to experience a flare up due to an accumulation of stressors and lifestyle habits rather than hormonal shifts.
How to Minimize Impact of CFS Flare Ups
There are many things you can do to help minimize the impact of a CFS flare up. It is important to get adequate rest and practice good sleep hygiene to ensure you are well rested and reduce your vulnerability to a CFS flare. It is also important to eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains. Regular exercise can also help strengthen the body and make it less prone to CFS flares.
Additionally, stress management techniques such as yoga or meditation can help keep stress levels in check which may help reduce the risk of CFS flares. One of the most important things you can do is to listen to your body and recognize when you need to rest, take breaks, or scale back on activities. This will help ensure that your CFS flares are not as severe or long-lasting.
Medications to use during flare ups
In some cases, medications may be prescribed during a CFS flare up to help ease symptoms. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation. Antidepressants may be prescribed to help manage sleep disturbances, pain and mood disturbances associated with CFS. Anti-anxiety medications may also be used to help manage stress and anxiety.
Medications commonly used for CFS flares, see how you can track them.
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Lyrica (pregabalin)
Using the CareClinic App to Determine Triggers & Improve Outcomes
The CareClinic patient app can be an invaluable tool in managing the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. By tracking your activities and lifestyle habits, you can determine potential triggers for CFS flares. This information can also help you to develop customized strategies for minimizing the impact of a flare-up when one does occur. With this data, you can work with your doctor to create an individualized plan for managing symptoms and improving outcomes. The App is available on both Android and iOS platforms.
CFS flare ups can be debilitating, but with the proper strategies in place, they don’t have to take over your life. By understanding the causes of CFS flares, being aware of your body’s limits, and using the CareClinic patient app to track patterns and plan for potential flares, you can be better equipped to manage your symptoms more effectively. By following the above tips, you can minimize the impact of CFS flare-ups and take control of your health.