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7 Common MS Triggers and How to Avoid Them

By Beth W. Orenstein
Reviewed by Dana Cooper, M.D.
August 29, 2022

If you have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), you’re probably well aware that symptoms can come and go. People can have relapses and periods of remission. Even during periods of remission, pseudo-relapses can occur.

A relapse is a new attack of inflammation that occurs somewhere in your nervous system, says Michael Kornberg, M.D., a board-certified neurologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, in Baltimore. The goal of disease-modifying drugs is to reduce new attacks of inflammation, so work with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you and your symptoms. Then, stick with that regimen, checking in regularly with your doctor to see whether it needs tweaks now and then, Kornberg says.

Even if you’re on disease-modifying medication, you may develop new symptoms (relapse) or a worsening of your preexisting symptoms (pseudo-relapse). While some flares don't have a clear cause, others can be triggered by certain environmental and lifestyle factors. To help prevent or reduce the symptoms of future flare-ups, here are common MS triggers to watch out for.