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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.


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


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


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.


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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