We all know the hallmark signs that we are about to experience a flare up of our autoimmune symptoms. You can’t ignore the debilitating fatigue, unusual rashes, and fevers, or achy joints and muscles that announce we are under serious attack by our immune system. But did you realize that our body offers us subtle clues our immune system is gearing up for a fight long before the obvious symptoms kick in? If we can become adept at listening to our body we can offer it the extra rest and TLC it needs to prepare to win a flare up battle. Here are ten of the early symptoms of a flare-up that you might not recognize.
1. Itchy Ears
Itchy ears usually mean that inflammation is on the rise in the body. One of the primary battles of autoimmune diseases is with inflammation. It just so happens that the middle ear is particularly sensitive to inflammation and responds with tell-tale signs of its presence. When the middle ear starts to become inflamed it causes an itching sensation. So the next time your ears are itching without a reasonable cause, then consider that it may be the body’s response to inflammation leading to a flare up.
2. Hair Loss
When there are unusual gobs of hair pooling near the drain in the shower it is a sign that your body is on its way to a flare up. Again, this is a result of inflammation throughout the body. The skin is the largest organ in the body and is just as susceptible to inflammation. Inflammation can be seen in the skin through rashes and hair loss. When you notice more hair than normal coming out in the shower or in your comb or brush, it is a symptom that the skin is inflamed and dealing with the beginnings of a flare up.
3. Gastrointestinal Changes
Your immune system’s home base is your gut. When your immune system gets out of whack one of the very first things is does is cause gastrointestinal changes. This could be different for everyone. For some, it means increased frequency and urgency in bowel movements while for others in mean constipation. It could also mean nausea, abdominal pain, acid reflux, or an increase or decrease in appetite due to problems. Whenever what is normal for your gastrointestinal system changes it is red flag number one that your immune system is on the move against you.
4. Dry Eyes or Dry Mouth
Dry eyes and mouth are common symptoms of many autoimmune diseases but when they suddenly take a turn for the worse it indicates the beginnings of a flare up. Inflammation in the moisture-producing glands causes a serious decrease in moisture which leads to an unusually dry mouth or eyes. Don’t be too quick to write itchy eyes off to allergies, it just may be a sign that a flare up is under way.
5. Feeling Unusually Cold
Feeling unusually cold could be a result of several factors indicating a flare up. It could be a sign of unexplained fever. It could also be a sign of anemia. Anemia is quite a common symptoms of multiple autoimmune diseases. Anemia could be a result of red blood cell destruction or an inability of the body to receive the proper nutrients because of an autoimmune attack. Either way, the phenomenon leaves you feeling unusually cold and indicates the warnings of a flare up.
Almost everyone gets headaches from time to time but occasionally a headache could be symptoms of a flare up. Not to be redundant, but inflammation is the culprit here again. Inflammation of blood vessels of the brain can cause headaches as well as inflammation of the brain itself. This particular type of headache is classified as a traction headache or inflammatory headache and are aptly named, the result of inflammation which rides closely ahead of a flare up.
This symptom goes hand in hand with the same cause of headaches. Inflammation to blood vessels leading the brain as well as the brain itself impairs cognitive function. If you find yourself a bit more forgetful than normal or struggling to concentrate without explanation, it is likely pointing out that a potential flare up is leading to increased inflammation.
8. Edema or Swelling
Swelling can be quite common in many autoimmune conditions but it always a common identifier of a flare up. Just like every other indicator before, it is the body’s response to inflammation. Those puffy eyes might not just be a sign of needing some beauty sleep, they might be pointing to a flare up. If you notice unusual swelling in the face, around the eyes, hands, feet, legs, or anywhere else on the body it is a sign that inflammation is increasing and so are your chances of a flare up.
Everyone’s body reacts differently to the autoimmune response. The symptoms that one person has may not be same for the next, or even themselves the next time. Are there other tiny little indicators of a flare up that you have recognized in your life? I’m interested to know if you have recognized any of the ones I have mentioned as well as which signs I might not have. The more aware we are of potential triggers to flare ups the more we can do to offer our bodies the extra rest and care it needs to recover quicker. Share your hints that will help below in the comment section.