What is a “pseudoexacerbation”?

Photo of a clockPseudoexacerbation Facts

  • Not caused by new damage
  • Brought on by other influences
  • Urinary tract infection is most common cause
  • Usually subsides within 24 hours

It is important to know that occasionally symptoms are not caused by new damage and these flare-ups are called pseudoexacerbations. A pseudoexacerbation is a temporary worsening of symptoms without actual myelin inflammation or damage, brought on by other influences. These can include other illnesses or infection, exercise, a warm environment, depression, exhaustion, and stress. When symptoms flare, checking for a fever is important, since even a minor infection and slight increase in temperature can cause symptoms to appear.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common type of infection to cause a pseudoexacerbation. Additionally, people with “heat-sensitive” MS will experience a temporary increase in symptoms when their body temperature rises, often after exercise. Many heat-sensitive individuals may opt to avoid hot tubs, saunas, or other situations that can raise the body’s temperature. Cooling vests and other types of cooling apparel or devices may be used, and these are often helpful for people with heat-sensitive MS to keep their body temperature down while in a warm environment.

While a pseudoexacerbation is a flare-up of symptoms, similar to a relapse, it is not caused by an increase in disease activity. Instead, it’s usually caused by various types of physical stress that impact your overall health. Once the cause of the stress is resolved, this type of symptom flare-up will usually subside within 24 hours.

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