What is a flare?
If you have been following me for a while you will often hear me say I am experiencing a flare. Mixed Connective Tissue Disease is a Lupus overlap condition, so Lupus and MCTD patients often share similar symptoms and experiences. A flare is a period of increased disease activity, in real terms, this usually means increased pain and fatigue amongst other things.
What causes a flare?
Sometimes it is easy to pinpoint what has caused a flare. Other times it a lot more difficult. Infections, stress and over-doing it usually triggers my flares. I have also noticed significant weather changes can also have an impact. Fortunately, I am not photosensitive and sunlight does not have a negative impact on me. In all honesty, I usually feel better after having been in the sun.
How do I deal with a flare?
First I try to rest and increase my painkillers or use one of my other coping methods for dealing with my pain. This tends to work if my flare is caused by overdoing it. If resting is not making a difference and my flare persists, I then contact my Rheumatologist by email who will advise me on how to adjust my medication, but if either of us are particularly concerned she will schedule an emergency appointment. When I am flaring badly I will usually need some time off from work especially when my hands and wrists are affected.
What have I learned from my flares?
Flares are highly unpredictable. As I mentioned above sometimes it easy to work out what has caused and flare other times it is anyone’s guess. I have learned to accept this as part of my life with MCTD and adapt my activities accordingly. For instance, if I have planned something that will take a lot out of me one weekend I will clear my schedule for the following weeks as I know I will probably need some time to recover. I have also tried to not to let it get me down and take part in more activities that require minimal energy or effort like watching movies and reading.
I hope I have given you some insight into what a flare is and how I deal with it.
As always, shine bright Stars!