10 Triggers That Can Cause Fibromyalgia Flare-Ups

4 minute read

By Kristina Kirkaldy

Fibromyalgia, characterized by widespread pain, can be unpredictable. Flare-ups often occur without warning, affecting quality of life. Fortunately, you can learn everything you need to know about fibromyalgia triggers with a search online.

Everyone experiences flare-ups differently and they can range from mild to severe. Understanding your triggers is essential for managing symptoms and maintaining a healthier, more comfortable lifestyle.

What Is a Flare-Up?

Some people with FM experience constant pain no matter the time or day, but for others, the pain tends to come in waves and can worsen depending on different factors, this is called a flare-up. A flare-up can happen anytime and can last from a few days to weeks at a time.

We’ve put together a list to help you identify possible triggers that can cause your FM symptoms to flare up.

Triggers of Fibromyalgia Flares

The weather

This is the most common cause of a short-term flare. Many people with FM experience an increase in pain due to changes in barometric pressure and extreme temperature changes. A temperature or weather-related flare-up can typically last a day or two. It’s important to take extra precautions when dealing with the effects of the weather (i.e. staying indoors, staying hydrated, etc.).

Sensitivity overload

Some FM patients have sensory issues including sensitivity to bright lights, loud noises, certain smells, and more. These sensitivities can trigger someone with FM to experience headaches or migraines, among others. Try to identify what you’re sensitive to so that you can try to avoid them.

Lack of sleep

Getting good quality sleep can be very difficult for FM patients and often leads to insomnia. One of the best methods to achieve better sleep is to create a bedtime routine by avoiding stimulants before bedtime. This can include avoiding caffeine, limiting screen time, meditating before bed, and if possible, trying to go to bed around the same time each day.

Anxiety and stress

This may be one of the biggest causes of an FM flare-up. When you’re dealing with chronic stress in your life, especially if you have FM, it can lead to a variety of health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. It’s important to identify ways to reduce anxiety and stress in your day-to-day life (i.e. focus on deep breathing, meditate, take up a hobby, talk with others).


Everyone knows by now that there are many negative impacts to your body that are caused by smoking whether you’re an FM patient or not. So, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that smoking can certainly be a cause of an FM flare-up. According to a study conducted by the University of Illinois College of Medicine, smoking can significantly increase FM pain and numbness throughout the body.

Sitting for long periods of time

If you’re an FM sufferer and have a desk job you may want to listen up. A combination of prolonged periods of sitting (seven to nine hours a day) and poor posture, can lead to a flare-up. If you do not stretch your body or go for a walk around the office, you’ll end up in extreme pain. Remember to take frequent breaks, and if you can’t stop working, ask for a stand-up desk.

Common cold

It’s never fun for anyone to haperiods the common cold, so it’s even worse if you suffer from FM. If a cold hits, it’s certainly a gateway for a flare-up, and unfortunately, it often takes longer for FM patients to get over their cold. It’s crucial that you keep up with taking your vitamins and continue to eat a healthy diet so that your immune system stays strong.

Taking on too much

It’s important to pace yourself throughout your day, taking on too many tasks and activities is definitely grounds for a potential flare-up. Remember that it’s okay to say “no” to people, especially if you know that it may trigger you. Don’t push yourself over your limit.

Eating Carbs

Carbohydrates are of course all full of sugar, so eating carbs is best avoided, especially if you’re dealing with FM. Many FM patients are more sensitive to changes in their blood sugar, and simply by limiting or eliminating them from your diet, you may be able to stop a potential flare.


Now this doesn’t mean a person with FM shouldn’t travel at all, it’s just important to try your best to prepare beforehand. Traveling can cause many of the common flares. Some are out of your control like the weather, but others can be prevented such as stress and disruption of sleep. To minimize a potential flare, try to rest before, during, and after your trip.

Learn More About Fibromyalgia Today

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to prevent a flare-up, but trying to identify triggers can be a step in the right direction and you may be able to reduce the number of flares greatly. Keeping a symptoms journal can be a helpful tool to identify your triggers. It’s also important to stay informed on the latest research and treatment options. Fortunately, you can learn more about fibromyalgia with a search online.

Kristina Kirkaldy