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What Causes MS Flare Ups?

By Daryl H. Bryant (571 words)
Posted in Living with MS on September 14, 2018

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What Causes MS Flare Ups?

Have you been wondering how you can keep your MS flare ups at bay? While it’s impossible to pinpoint every cause of MS flare ups, there are certain circumstances that have been proven to trigger MS flare ups. Avoiding them won’t make your MS go away, but it can help you avoid unnecessary flares. Read on to learn what causes MS flare ups.

Stress & Fatigue

Living with MS can be stressful at times, and fatigue is one of your symptoms, so these two are difficult to avoid. Still, it’s important not to overexert yourself or let the stress of life wear on you too much. Stress and fatigue are both common triggers for MS flare ups. Practice self-care and do things that make you feel calm and relaxed every day. Whether you pick up yoga, meditation, or something else, it’s important to practice stress relief. (Here are 5 ways to reduce stress if you don’t know where to start.) If you are experiencing fatigue, don’t fight against it too much. Be mindful of your need for increased sleep and take naps when necessary to avoid burning out.


Hot baths, summer sun, and exercise can all cause MS flare ups. In fact, before medical advancements, negative response to a hot bath was one of the indicators used to determine whether or not someone had MS. While not all people who have MS will experience heat sensitivity (and some folks DO experience the same issues with cold, though it is more rare), allowing your body to overheat will likely result in an MS flare up. Try to make it a practice to stay as cool as you can, in general. There are plenty of devices, including cooling vests and outerwear, to help people with MS avoid overheating. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, invest in proper gear to protect your core temperature. Learn how to beat the heat to reduce MS symptoms.

Skipping Medication

You should always take your medication as prescribed. If something feels off, discuss it with your doctor immediately rather than discontinuing medication on your own. Skipping medication is a sure way to bring on an MS flare up.


One third of all MS flare ups are caused by infections. You can’t completely prevent the possibility of getting sick, but there are plenty of things you can do to bolster your immune system and decrease your exposure to germs. Wash your hands well and regularly. Disinfect your home, especially if you have children, pets, or frequent guests. Don’t visit people who are sick. Eat kale. Take vitamins. Live a healthy life. Do all the things you’d typically do to try to stay well, and hopefully you won’t get an infection. If you do get sick, see your doctor promptly to get it resolved as quickly as possible.

While avoiding these things isn’t always possible, taking actions to minimize your risk factors will help you avoid MS flare ups. Relapses and flare ups are still going to be part of living with MS, but you can learn how to overcome an MS flare up and how to manage an MS relapse. We also have tips for what to do when your MS is getting worse. By following these steps, you should be able to avoid or handle your MS flare ups.

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