Some relapses may be due to the waxing and waning of your illness, but other setbacks are caused by factors you can influence. You can begin to gain control over relapses by identifying those things that cause them. You can do so by keeping records and by reviewing the events that lead up to your relapses.
Common triggers include those below. The first three are the causes mentioned most frequently by people in the self-help program.
Living outside one’s limits is the the most common cause of intensified symptoms. The antidote: pacing. Keeping to a daily routine in which you live consistently within your limits reduces the frequency and severity of relapses.
Non-restorative sleep, the second mostly frequently mentioned relapse trigger, can intensify symptoms and precipitate a vicious cycle in which symptoms and poor sleep reinforce one another. The solution: address sleep problems by improving sleep habits, using medications and treating sleep disorders.
CFS and fibromyalgia make people very stress-sensitive, so minimizing stress can prevent relapses. Stressors may include emotionally-charged events, such as financial problems, a disability review or a move; physical illness; or long-term situations, such as family conflict.
Travel and Other Special Events
Special events, like a vacation, family visits or the holidays, can trigger a relapse. The solution: reduced activity level and planning ahead using the strategies outlined on the Travel & Special Events
If you are sensitive to light, noise or crowds, you may experience intensified symptoms in situations of sensory overload. One common solution is avoidance. For example, get together with one or a few people rather than a large group. Visit stores and restaurants when they are not busy. Wear sunglasses and ear plugs in places that use fluorescent light or are noisy.
Coming down with an acute illness, such as a cold or flu, or having multiple chronic illnesses can reduce energy and worsen CFS and FM symptoms. By treating other conditions and acknowledging that they intensify symptoms, you can reduce CFS/FM flares.
Stressful Relationships (Particular People)
Interactions with people who are negative, demanding or hyperactive may be a source of stress. Responses include talking with the person to redefine the relationship, limiting contact, getting professional help and ending the relation.