A flare is a sudden intensification of an inflammatory disease process, such as in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In RA, flares take the form of increased pain and inflammation. Infection, stress, or too much activity can trigger a flare.

A person with RA can take steps to prevent or ease flares. First, take note of how you were feeling immediately before the flare occurred so that you can identify possible triggers and take steps to avoid them.

One approach to preventing flares is to reduce stress through such practices as regular exercise, meditation, and yoga. It’s also helpful to learn to pace yourself, resisting the temptation to overdo to make up for the times when you’re feeling. Maintaining a healthy body weight can also help alleviate stress on the joints and prevent or decrease the severity of RA flares.

If you do experience a flare, speak with your doctor about the possibility of adjusting the dosage of your RA medications.

This column is written by Robert S. Dinsmoor, a medical writer and editor based in Massachusetts.

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