Triggers

onwardandupward

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I am fairly new to fibro and I'm trying to figure out my triggers. I know that over exersion and lack of sleep are triggers for me. Can anyone suggest others that I should consider?
 

JayCS

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Hi onwardandupward, and welcome!

Good question. These are my general lists (where A. causes, B. biomarkers, C. Starting Points are probably not the deeper "triggers" you're now referring to...):

Long term flares (weeks or months) are mostly triggered by
D.1. Illness, common cold…
D.2. injury,
D.3. long-term stress (often hard to identify)
D.4. allergies, incl. seasonal,
D.5. sleep problems
D.6. vicious circles of sleep, stomach/gut problems, etc.
D.7. hormonal changes (menstrual cycles, menopause, etc.)
D.8. treatment changes
D.9. meds/supps/herbs, even without changing them.
D.10. travelling.

Short term flares (hours or days) are mostly triggered by
E.1. Physically overdoing it/overexertion...
E.2. Mental Stress
E.3. Weather, esp. temperature, esp. changes
E.4. sensitivities: light, noise, smells
E.5. changes in sleep routine....

So the 2 you've already mentioned are my D.5 and and E.1.

This is mainly referring to overall generalized ache in combination with "fatigue", of which I've found 15 kinds, incl. brain/fibro fog as mental fatigue.

What I distinguish from that are the triggers of localized pains, insomnia, headache, GI, depression....
My localized pains can be triggered by my Ache, but also mainly by - let's call it - moving wrongly.
My 4-10 sleep breaks per night have about 40 different triggers, 30 of which I'd listed in a post here.
My stomach hyperacidity and gut IBS-D have many more triggers, histamine problems from MCAS add to that.
Headache like cramps in my case are often triggered by not drinking "enough", recently my frontal sinus burning can combine with a frontal or general headache, and that is caused by histamine-y foods from MCAS.
But headaches and depression I'd say both have their very own triggers, which I'm not that familiar with....

Is that roughly the sort of stuff you were thinking of? Hope so...
 

onwardandupward

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Thank you. That is helpful. I'm also wondering what foods might be triggers.
 

JayCS

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I'm also wondering what foods might be triggers.
Generally my summary of all the many recommendations and studies is: processed food, which is best left aside totally by everybody, like of course sugar (all simple carbs), "alcohol" etc. This is general health, which is good for everyone and so also for us. The Mediterranean diet, also good for lipids, is fairly often recommended for fibro in studies.
Then dairy, meat, gluten and fructans - try stopping each of these groups for 3 weeks, or to be sure 2 months.

Actually, these are not necessarily stomach or gut related, they help quite a few people with the pain/fatigue
(not me, but I still need to reduce all of these for my other conditions.)

Further triggers are again dependent on our symptoms, hyperacidity is different to hypoacidity, both different to IBS in the variants D, C and A: diarrhea, constipation, alternating.
I have to avoid everything onion-like, spicy, minty, sour, fizzy, warm and lots more,
also I have to watch esp. for histamine, also oxalates, salicylates for allergic seeming reactions, altho I'm not allergic to any food or anything at all, measurably. I have a list of 50 foods I can tolerate well, and I try to use them as varied as possible and try anything new, like pak choi.
 
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cookiebaker

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food triggers are going to be unique to most everyone..
Check out Sunkacola's post at the top of this section of the forum..

She lists a lot of things to try cutting, but the trick is to cut them for long enough to really know if they are a problem or not.

For me, gluten is a big one, but I have actually narrowed it down to specific types that really trigger my ibs issues. So I have not had to cut gluten entirely forever.. just certain things, like "white bread" items.. hamburger/hotdog buns, etc..
I can still eat most pasta types, and whole grain bread is ok, but it took a good month and a half - two months to really figure this out.. I started by cutting ALL gluten out for a minimum of 3 weeks, then reintroduced one item at a time.. to see how my gut would react to it.

It takes a bit of time, but by working at it methodically and mindfully, you can figure out what foods trigger your symptoms.
 

Cutiegirl

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I had a 3 month long flare (it was awful) before being diagnosed in June. For me, it's definitely mainly food sensitivities. I did a 4 day detox and then an elimination diet. No gluten, no dairy, no sugar and no nightshade plants. After 30ish days I reintroduced eggs. No pain! And since then, every week (usually on a Thursday), I try a new thing. My main meals have pretty much been the same so the ONE change let's me know if it's a trigger. So far: no gluten (gastro), no milk (headache and gastro), no white sugar(full pain flare) no peanuts (sick headache). Tried GF oats this past Thursday. It was okay! I am excited because I love oatmeal with nuts and berries. Eating well has me 20 pounds lighter. I am sleeping better and I do yoga every day. I still get headaches at work but I think it's just the environment and me wearing a mask. I still get tiny flares here and there but I stretch it out, drink water and try to breathe through it. If you want the recipes for the detox and elimination diet, I used Anne Louise Gittleman's book called Radical Metabolism. It's not for fibro but everything she writes about makes total sense and other fibro sufferers use it. I like her recipes.
 

Rex

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This is a really great question, and as someone who is new to fibro as well, it is something I am continuing to work on. I think it can be helpful when identifying triggers to work on changing 1 or 2 potential triggers, rather than changing all of them at once. It can be rather daunting to try and fix a bunch of triggers all at once, and I've found that if I try and tackle too many triggers at once, I'm not able to do it.

For me personally, fixing my sleep and exercise routine was the most important. Getting consistent sleep and not exercising too much was important for me. I discovered I was actually exercising too much and too often, resulting in my body feeling incredibly beat up and never really recovering. I learned over time that I can do low intensity workouts, like a nice walk through the neighborhood on high pain days, and that I don't need to push through and go on a full run, because typically it just makes things worse for me.

I know you also mentioned food, and that is a tough one. I try to change one thing at a time and make sure I give myself enough time to see if there is a difference. I think it's better to change something small over time than to just cut it out all at once. For example, I cut out animal milk and switched to plant based milk to reduce my dairy intake, but I still eat cream cheese and yogurt. Later I might reduce my dairy intake even more, but I just want to get comfortable with one change at a time. I've also dabbled with cutting out gluten but I'm not quite sure if it's made a difference yet. I am still waiting to see and trying to see how it fits with my life.

Good luck, and I hope that some of this is helpful. You can discover your triggers and live a good life. It just takes some time and patience.
- Rex
 

cookiebaker

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I know you also mentioned food, and that is a tough one. I try to change one thing at a time and make sure I give myself enough time to see if there is a difference. I think it's better to change something small over time than to just cut it out all at once. For example, I cut out animal milk and switched to plant based milk to reduce my dairy intake, but I still eat cream cheese and yogurt. Later I might reduce my dairy intake even more, but I just want to get comfortable with one change at a time. I've also dabbled with cutting out gluten but I'm not quite sure if it's made a difference yet. I am still waiting to see and trying to see how it fits with my life.

I can understand where you are coming from, Rex, but - the problem with only doing a single food item vs the entire food group is that you really dont know if what you cut is making much of a difference when you are still eating other things from that same food group.
The only way to truly know is to cut the entire food group completely for at least 3 weeks - a month is better.. 30 days..
then, bring back one item from that group at a time and see how you do..

I did this with gluten.. was not easy, let me tell ya! LOL I ate a lot of lean protein (unprocessed chicken, fresh fish & lean pork), fresh veggies I cooked myself, and rice. No pasta, no breads - of any kind - no cookies, cake, pie or anything else that could even remotely have gluten in it - and it is surprising where that turns up.. just like sugars.
After a month, I tried one thing a week.. pasta one week.. breads spread across several weeks, because there are so many types.. white breads (and buns - hamburger, hotdog, etc) are a definite problem for me, so no fast food burgers, either, which is fine - didnt eat a lot of that anyway. Sourdough is ok, as are "dark" breads - wheat, rye, etc. flat breads and tortillas are ok... figure that one out... haven't really tried any cookies or cake lately, so unsure of that..
hmmm... birthday is next week.. hehe, maybe I will get a cake?
 

sunkacola

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I know you also mentioned food, and that is a tough one. I try to change one thing at a time and make sure I give myself enough time to see if there is a difference. I think it's better to change something small over time than to just cut it out all at once. For example, I cut out animal milk and switched to plant based milk to reduce my dairy intake, but I still eat cream cheese and yogurt. Later I might reduce my dairy intake even more, but I just want to get comfortable with one change at a time. I've also dabbled with cutting out gluten but I'm not quite sure if it's made a difference yet. I am still waiting to see and trying to see how it fits with my life.
Hi Rex,

The problem with what you are doing is that it is unlikely to tell you anything useful at all. For instance, if you were triggered by, say, cow products, then cutting out only milk and still eating yogurt and cream cheese wouldn't show you anything because they are made from cow's milk. If you want to do the experiment and actually get results you need to cut out all products from cows entirely and do that for long enough to see if there is any improvement. While I understand your wanting to go at it in small bits, that is a waste of time if your goal is to find triggers for your symptoms.

You can't really "dabble" with this if you want to know. If you want to know if gluten is a trigger cut out every single thing that has any wheat, rye or barley in it whatever and do that for a month. See if there's a difference. Then eat one piece of bread and see if that causes anything. If there's no difference, move on to something else.

I know cutting all of something is harder than doing it piecemeal. But it's the only way you will get information. Think of it as if it were an allergy. (It isn't, but just imagine). If you were allergic to peanuts you wouldn't be able to eat anything with peanuts, peanut butter, peanut oil, etc., and just cutting out one of those things wouldn't help.
 

Auriel

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Hi, welcome to the forum! ☕️ 🍪 the triggers (and I can only put down what's starts mine, though some other members have the same) stress/anxiety and yeah lack of sleep, doing too much/pushing too far definitely alchohol, caffeine (coffee Coca-Cola,fizzy drinks) gluten/wheat (pasta /crisps, bread/cakes) I had a sliding fall in the kitchen Tuesday while mopping the floor (that seemed to start a flaire up for me) , and girl time, always seems to be worse then ( didn't want to put that 1 down 😊 but I'm tryna think of everything)
✨️🍀✨️
 

cookiebaker

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and girl time, always seems to be worse then ( didn't want to put that 1 down 😊 but I'm tryna think of everything)
ah yes... girl time... Auntie Flo... 😉 Honestly, I am so glad I dont have to deal with that one anymore.. and haven't had to in about 12 years.. I can certainly empathize tho..

Stress/anxiety are certainly triggers for me as well.. and honestly, i think they probably are for a lot of us. Sleep - or lack of - can be another, if it goes on for too long.. certain medications can be triggers as well..
Bad weather can set me off - Low Pressure systems especially - not sure if it is the fibro or the arthritis that is bothered the most, but if one starts to flare up the other is sure to follow along.. 😔
 

Auriel

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Yeah @cookiebaker/ @onwardandupward I forgot about weather (always seems to be the cold starts mine (and it's getting cold in Wales now 🥶 ) I got osteo too and I get confused which is winding the other up! 🤣
 

Rex

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If you want to do the experiment and actually get results you need to cut out all products from cows entirely and do that for long enough to see if there is any improvement. While I understand your wanting to go at it in small bits, that is a waste of time if your goal is to find triggers for your symptoms.

You can't really "dabble" with this if you want to know. If you want to know if gluten is a trigger cut out every single thing that has any wheat, rye or barley in it whatever and do that for a month. See if there's a difference. Then eat one piece of bread and see if that causes anything. If there's no difference, move on to something else.
@sunkacola - Completely valid take on doing an elimination diet, and I see where you're coming from. I think what I was trying to communicate in regard to eliminating gluten is that the goal is complete elimination, but I do it in small obtainable steps. For example, finding bagels that I like to eat in the morning and then finding pasta, etc. Rather than saying I will cut out all gluten all at once, I slowly started replacing every wheat product with non-gluten alternatives one by one. My goal was to communicate that yes you should eventually eliminate everything, but it doesn't have to happen overnight (unless that works for you!) Some people do well with cutting things out quickly, but I need that stable, gentle change over time so that I have long-lasting change if I need to keep it. I have now officially cut out all gluten, but it took me some time to commit, and I was weary about it at first.

And in regard to dairy, I don't think my goal is elimination, honestly. I think it's more reduction of dairy, which my acupuncturist recommended. But I apologize for conveying that I was trying to identify dairy as a trigger. I'm not, I am just trying to reduce my intake per recommendation of my medical team. I can see why it would be confusing to say I was doing an elimination diet, but not actually eliminating all the triggers in the food group.

caffeine (coffee Coca-Cola,fizzy drinks)
I recently also cut out caffeine and have started drinking decaff coffee. I know it's not fully caffeine free, but I'm happy with that change so far. It's been about a week, so we will see if I can keep that up lol. Switching to decaff was quite the change but I think my energy is leveling out.

Warmly,
- Rex
 

sunkacola

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Hi @Rex , and thanks for the clarification.
I understand what you are doing now, and if you already know for sure that gluten is a trigger for you, then this is a perfectly reasonable way to go about eliminating it.

If, however, you don't know that eliminating gluten from your diet will help you, it would seem preferable to me just to cut it all out for only one month to see if that had any effect rather than making it a long process, and then possibly finding out after all of that, that it doesn't help you to cut out gluten. Of course, if your cutting down on it seems to be helping and your goal is complete elimination, your approach makes sense.

I cut gluten entirely overnight, and bread was my favorite thing to eat. At that time you couldn't get good gluten free bread, so it was very hard to do. But a health problem I had had most of my life (not related to fibromyalgia) stopped completely within 2 weeks and never came back again unless I ate something with gluten in it. It's been worth it, and by now after several years I am used to it, but I still wish i could just eat normally because I look at a menu or walk down a grocery aisle and there are more things I can't eat than things I can.
 
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