Triggers are those things in our environment that increase our fibromyalgia (FM) pain, and they are not our friends. Some triggers are unavoidable like changes in weather, and some triggers can be avoided or changed, like the chemicals we use to clean. Let’s look at a few of these triggers for FM.
Weather: I always seem to know when bad weather is on the way because my pain increases, sometimes it increases very dramatically. Personally, it is the cold, snow, and rain that wreaks the most havoc with my pain and fatigue levels. Those are the days I get out my heated blanket and take more pain meds.
Chemical Cleaners: Many years ago I switched to natural cleaners because the smell of products such as bathroom cleaners, dusting sprays, floor cleaners, etc., really bothered me!! I couldn’t deal with the smells. Natural, citrusy-smelling cleaners were pleasant, as well as effective. Even my bathroom spray is a natural orange-scented spray. J.R. Watkins makes great cleaning products that work well and have a mild fragrance.
Perfume: I purposely stay away from those stores that spray you with perfume when you walk in. Ugh! Strong perfumes and aftershaves just make me nauseous. I haven’t worn perfume in many years because of that.
Overexertion: Why is it we push ourselves to do things that we know we will pay for? Overdoing it is never good for us, but it’s hard sometimes to listen to our bodies. Walking too far at one time, doing too many errands in one day, doing too much on those days when we feel pretty good. All of those are triggers to more pain and exhaustion. It’s really not worth it.
Food: I know this is a touchy subject, because let’s face it, who wants to give up certain foods when we already give up so much, right? But I find certain foods caused me more pain, and maybe they do you, too. Foods such as: Gluten, MSG, sugar, dairy, simple carbs like cookies and some breads and crackers, food coloring, corn and other starch vegetables, nightshades like peppers, potatoes, and mushrooms, processed foods, caffeine, and fast foods to name a few. Be aware of how your body responds to what you’re eating, and be sure to drink lots of water.
Lack of Sleep: One thing I’ve found helpful for me is listening to quiet instrumental music at bedtime. I put it on a sleep timer on my phone and listen to it for about a half-hour. Or I listen to an audio book and put it on a sleep timer. It really relaxes me so I can fall asleep. Lack of sleep is definitely a trigger that needs to be addressed. Pain can keep us tossing and turning. Talk to your doctor about possible sleep medication, and increased pain meds at bedtime if you feel you need them to get a better night’s sleep.
Sensory Overload: Loud noises, bright lights, too many people talking, and strong odors all can be triggers. They can bring on cluster headaches, and just plain make me feel overwhelmed. I can’t stand the smell of nail polish, gasoline, or strong scented candles. I use lower wattage lightbulbs or dim the lights. I enjoy using essential oils in my diffuser as they can be calming as well.
What are some of your triggers? What changes have you made to accommodate them? Please share so others may benefit.
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