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How to Distinguish a Real Ms Flare-up From a Pseudo Flare-up

Updated on April 23, 2019
Jen's Solitude profile image

I was diagnosed with the relapsing/remitting form of MS in 1993. I am happy to share my knowledge for these and other related health issues.

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Pseudo Flare-up Explained

People with MS contend with pseudo flare-ups? the false-positive nature of MS. Understand this part of MS helps in managing the disease, which is always changing.

MS can flare-up and before you know it, calm right back down again. It doesn't mean the disease is progressing or that there is a need to be unduly concerned. It means a pseudo flare-up is taking place.a pseudo flare-up clears up quickly, as soon as the problem causing the flare-up is handled. Also, unlike a real flare-up, no central nervous system damage is taking place.

What is a Pseudo Flare-Up?

A pseudo flare-up feels just like the real thing. That's because it is the real thing. Some mistakenly refer to it as a fake flare-up, implying you are imagining things, or feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Getting to the root cause can help symptoms settle down. Left unchecked, the problem will continue to manifest itself.

What Caused My Pseudo Flares

Infections

I remember the number one cause of my pseudo flares was oddly enough a sinus infection. In truth any infection can cause a pseudo flare. Most infections cause some kind of increase in core body temperature. And what is the worse thing for MS? An increase in body temperature. The body responds just like an electrical chord responds when it is frayed, it gets open patches that prevents the smooth supply of electricity. Elevated body temperature, even just a degree, shorts out our electrical connections from our brains to our nerves and muscles and kaos ensues.

I have made more than one trip to the emergency room for what I thought was a sudden attack, only to discover I had a fever due to the fact that my sinuses were infected. One time I was in the ER with a temperature of 103 degrees. As soon as I was re-hydrated and my temperature came down, all the MS symptoms disappeared too. It got to the point that I would ask the attending to check my sinuses when I had to go to the ER, just to save time. If the doctor found an infection, all that was needed were antibiotics and a Tylenol -type over the counter drug, to lower my fever. Eventual I didn't even go to the ER when it happened, instead, I recognized the symptoms and would go to my primary doctor to treat the infection before it had time to get a firm hold on my MS and send it into overdrive.

Other Types of Infections or Conditions

Uti's

Many people with MS suffer from chronic UTI's (urinary tract infections) this type of infection does not mix well at all with MS. Drink plenty of cranberry juice as a preventative, and seek medical help as soon as an infection takes hold, to prevent a full-scale launch of MS symptoms.

A Cold or Virus

Be mindful that a cold or virus may slow down nerve conduction just enough to trigger your MS symptoms.

Hazy-Hot-Humid Weather.

Is toughest on walking ability. The brain may feel as if it is shuttng down making thinking and talking a major struggle.

Most people with MS find their symptoms act up when it is 75 or above. Seek shelter in an air-conditioned environment until it passes.

Exercise

Vigorous exercise can cause a pseudo flare-up. The secret to exercising is finding your body's toleration point. Your body's tolerance can be a hard pill to swallow. It is not good to and muscle through a work-out and make your body obey your commands. Exercise is good for MS as long as warning signs are heeded and limitations observed when need be.

If you feel like a limp noodle after you exercise and you don't recover in say an hour or so, you are exercising too much and you are flaring up your MS.

Scary but Manageable

While experiencing different symptoms may at first be alarming, adjusting becomes easier with time. Being in tune with the body's signals and warnings can help to lessen the frequency and severity of flare-ups due to uncontrollable circumstances. Self-examination of activity and behavior can be useful in determining when an adjustment of actions or attitude is needed. It is possible to do most things as long as allowances are made in advance.

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 years ago from USA

      Great information. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      7 years ago from Delaware

      Hi sarafri198, don't worry at all if your thoughts are scattered. I have no problem following your concerns.

      Do you have a fever by any chance? Even a slight rise in body temperature is hurtful where MS is concerned. I have frequent sinus problems and my first clue that I have a slight fever is that my arms and legs get weak. Usually after I have rested the weakness eases up and I take that to mean I have to let my body fight the sinus problem and rest even if I'm bored. In that way my body doesn't have to work so hard.

      I am glad you have an appointment coming up so soon. It is good for your neuro to see you when symptoms are acting up as it helps him to get a complete picture.

      I don't need testing because I know I have a problem with mold and when the mold level rises I get flare-up like symptoms. I try to stay out of places where mold is higher and eventually I began to feel better.

      My e-mail address is at the top right hand side where it says "contact Jen's Solitude" please feel free to use it whenever you want. It certainly does help to have someone answer your questions and settle your nerves. We have all turned to the MS community in that way.

      Don't forget to rest today, OK?

    • profile image

      sarafr198 

      7 years ago

      When you have a cold/ virus and see a new symptom, how long does it usually take to go away? I have a possible diagnosis of MS based on a few symptoms I had at the end of Dec/ beginning of January. I started coming down with a cold/ allergies this past Tuesday and it got pretty bad on Thursday and Friday. Friday morning, I woke up with my right leg and arm feeling pretty weak but I was able to regain control and walk normally/ use my arm and hand comfortably after a few hours. However, on Saturday, Sunday and today (Monday), I woke up with a similar feeling only this time the muscle weakness didn't go away with walking/ time and its even difficult for me to write and type with my right hand. I still have a bit of a runny nose so I guess I'm not completely over my cold yet...it's just a bit scary not being able to walk the way I used to a few days ago. I set up an appt to see my neurologist tomorrow. Did you guys get allergy tested? Sorry for my scattered talking and random questions..I'm just worried and don't really know who to talk to about this. Thanks!

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      8 years ago from Delaware

      Hi DTroth! It is a pleasure to meet you. Yes both sinus problems and allergies convince me I am about to flare at this time of the year. Hopefully I will get through the next two months with no major exacerbation. Stay well!

    • DTroth profile image

      Diana Owens 

      8 years ago from My Little Hole In The Wall, HubPages, USA

      Hi Jen.

      Thank you for the great info! Very useful! I haven't had any urinary tract infections (knock on wood), but I do suffer from sinus problems. ...and I know what you mean about the heat of summer. It totally kicks my butt!

      I look forward to reading more of your hubs!

      Diana

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      9 years ago from Delaware

      Hi Anya,

      I'm so glad you find this information helpful. You know I can totally understand catching germs when you are around others, what I hate is catching something when I'm home and away from those who are sick. I recently had an intestinal bug, with no discernible source, other than the people who were around my husband. He wasn't sick, so guess he was just the carrier of the bug. :(

      Getting to know Kath has been wonderful. She has introduced me to so many great people. I really appreciate her.

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Anya

    • profile image

      Anya 

      9 years ago

      thanks for the information. I have not had a UTI but I will look out for infections the next time I feel a flare coming on. I do notice that if I am around ppl who are sick with cold, viruses, etc., I will begin to have symptoms. this is great info and I am glad Kathy posted this link for us.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Kath, glad your nurse was able to help you determine the cause of the pseudo flares. As if MS alone, isn't enough to worry about, eh? Thanks for the comment. :)

    • kathavfm profile image

      kathavfm 

      10 years ago from Stourbridge UK

      Hi Jen

      Just came over after you left a comment on my one very meagre hub maybe one day I'll write as much as you!)

       

      Yes , I had a lot of pseudo flare ups until my MS nurse suggested I might have a UTI. Indeend I am very prone to UTIs. Sure enough that's what it was and now I permanently have a supply on antibiotics on hand and dip sticks to test my urine if I'm suspicious.

      These infections seems to be asymptomatic for me, ( apart form the MS symptoms) which is good I don't  have to suffer them but bad that I can't see it coming !

       

       

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