Nov 2, 2018

Seven Strategies for Managing Flare-ups During the Holidays

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While this is the most wonderful time of the year for most, for those who suffer from arthritis it means increased chances of painful flare-ups. A flare-up is defined as pain, inflammation, stiffness, and fatigue that can limit your ability to life everyday life. If not effectively managed, arthritis flare-ups can hinder your lifestyle and the holiday season. It is tough to get into the holiday spirit when arthritis flare-up’s become too hard to manage. Enjoy the season with less stress and pain with these seven strategies for managing flare-ups during the holidays.

Watch for warning signs.

Sometimes you can just feel a flare coming, other times, they come on unexpectedly and without warning. Know your body and pay close attention to early warning signs, such as dull aches, joint swelling, daytime fatigue, and intense pain. A crucial part of managing a flare-up is attacking it head on as early as possible.

Avoid certain foods.

There are particular foods that tend to lead to inflammation, and during this time of year it is easy to give in to temptations and indulge in those chocolatey treats, red meats, and delicious cocktails. Sugary sweets and weight gain can contribute to arthritis pain, so while it’s ok to indulge once in a while, don’t make it a habit during the holiday season. Also, be sure to drink alcohol only in moderation. While cocktails and the holidays seem to go hand in hand, it can exacerbate arthritis symptoms and increase depression.

Protect yourself against infection.

There is a distinct feeling of cheer in the atmosphere during the holidays, but unfortunately there are germs and lurking bacteria as well. Having an autoimmune disease and certain medications will weaken your defenses against viruses and bacteria. This makes an arthritis sufferer more susceptible to getting sick, which can trigger a flare-up. Make sure you are up to date on your vaccines, don’t forget to wash your hands regularly, and avoid close contact with those who are or may be sick.

Get plenty of rest.

The holidays are busy, stressful and most times consistent routines go right out of the window. Lack of sleep can make depression and joint pain worse, leading to agonizing flare-ups. Make sure you stick to a regular sleep schedule that allows you to sleep 6 to 8 hours a night.

Take care of yourself

While it’s important to make sure you are staying healthy with good foods, rest and exercise, it’s also important to treat yourself as well. Sometimes a small gesture of self-indulgence can make a huge difference when you need to feel refreshed and less stressed. When you take care of yourself emotionally and mentally you will feel better physically as well. So go ahead and splurge on that massage, or have a spa day at home, plan an evening to binge on Netflix holiday movies, or catch that new play with your friends.

Plan ahead.

Arthritis flares do not care what time of year it is or what holiday events you have planned. They can occur any time and out of nowhere, so it is important to have a plan. Designate friends or family members to help you and make sure they know which responsibilities to take over so you can have a break. Your rheumatologist should be your partner during treatment. As a team, you need to come up with a plan together that keeps your disease and its symptoms in check. But when a flare strikes, regular treatments may not be enough. Talk to your doctor about a backup medication plan should a flare-up occur.

Managing holiday stress can be tough for anyone, but for someone dealing with arthritis flare-ups this happy time of year can be downright miserable. The holidays are about family and friends, but before we take care of others we must take care ourselves. If you need more ideas on managing your arthritis flare-ups throughout the holidays, call Carolina Arthritis today!