Community Views: Surprising Psoriatic Arthritis Triggers
Last updated: March 2023
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a unique chronic condition to manage. A big part of that is managing triggers, whether you already knew about them or are surprised by them.
What psoriatic arthritis triggers surprise you?
To learn some of your more surprising PsA triggers, we reached out to Psoriatic-Arthritis.com’s Facebook community. We asked, “Fill in the blank: I was surprised that ________ causes my psoriatic arthritis to flare.”
Hundreds of people responded with their most surprising and unique PsA triggers. Several interesting themes appeared among the responses. Here is what was shared.
How the warm weather impacts PsA
A trip to the beach, hanging by the pool, or a backyard cookout are fun summertime activities. But for some people with PsA, the heat and humidity are unwelcome triggers. In fact, for many community members, the summer months are dreaded.
- “I despise hot weather and all the pain and swelling it brings.”
- “Heat makes me flare. Especially if I go to the beach or do anything outside for too long.”
- “Summer with high humidity is the hardest time for me.”
- “I swell up in my feet, hands, and increased inflammation around my ribs. I struggle to regulate my body, and it makes me feel sick and sore.”
- “The summer. The heat and humidity wreaks havoc on my body.”
Fluctuations in weather can be a pain, too
Turns out, extreme heat is just one weather-related trigger for PsA flares. Sudden changes in weather can cause painful symptoms without much warning.
- “Fluctuating weather from hot to cold too quickly. And vice versa. My body just doesn’t know how to handle it.”
- “Unstable weather. Barometric pressure swings high to low this winter, and it’s wreaking havoc.”
- “I dread weather changes. When a front starts coming through, my PsA flares so bad sometimes that the pain is almost unbearable.”
- “Cold damp and hot humid. I am only happy between 65 and 82 degrees.”
Nightshade vegetables may be inflammatory culprits
Food sensitivities are common. There are certain foods that can cause inflammation and pain in the joints and throughout the body. But one vegetable seems to stand out more than others. The culprit? Tomatoes! It turns out, nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, and eggplant all can cause inflammation.1
- “All nightshades. Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, carbs.”
- “Tomatoes. I have to eat them in moderation.”
- “Tomatoes and sugar.”
Long car rides can be triggering
Whether from being stuck in traffic, sitting in uncomfortable and cramped seats, or being unable to stand up when you need to, long car rides are a surprising PsA trigger.
- “Being in the car for more than two hours.”
- “Riding in the car more than a couple of hours.”
- “Traveling over Christmas put me in a major flare.”
Alcohol, sugary drinks, and dairy are a major nuisance
While maybe not all that surprising, alcohol, sugar, dairy, and poor diet choices were responsible for many PsA flare-ups. Too much sugar can increase inflammation and weight gain, which can make symptoms worse.2
- “Alcohol and excessive sugar.”
- “Sugar is a big trigger.”
- “Alcohol and eating badly.”
For many, PsA triggers remain a mystery
Sometimes, PsA flares occur seemingly at random, with no clear triggers. This can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, and helplessness.
- “Everything, anything, or nothing!”
- “I have no idea what causes it to flare. Some days are good, some days are bad.”
- “Wish I knew? Getting out of bed I guess.”
- “I wish I could figure that out.”
Unique, personal, and completely valid.
PsA triggers can vary day by day based on what you eat or drink, your stress levels, and even the weather! While many PsA triggers might come as a surprise, what is not surprising is that they are all unique, personal, and completely valid.
Thank you to everyone who shared their surprising triggers for this story. Take extra care of yourself when experiencing a painful PsA flare. And remember that you are not alone.
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