NMO triggers

My 4 NMO Triggers

We all have things that may trigger our NMO symptoms in our day-to-day lives. Triggers are different for everyone. As for me, I have many triggers which I never expected to have.

Sugar triggers my NMO symptoms

The first thing that triggers my symptoms is eating sugar. I never realized how important it is to have a good diet until I got hit with an autoimmune disease.

My diet before my attack consisted of anything and everything I wanted, with no nutritious food. I was a really picky eater and stuck to junk food like chocolates, crisps, and chicken for meals. I didn’t like any vegetables or other meats. In the hospital, my dad was the first to catch on to what made me flare. After having a fizzy drink or a cookie, I would be in pain.

Adjusting my diet

We decided to switch up my diet, and I tried a gluten, dairy-free diet and cut down on refined sugars. I can’t be consistent with the gluten- and dairy-free parts, but I see a significant improvement in my symptoms with a healthier diet. I switched from full sugar drinks to diet, and even though I’ve heard they aren’t any better, they don't trigger my neuropathic itch the way full sugar drinks did.

Hot weather

The second thing that triggers my symptoms is the heat. Like many of us, I have heat sensitivity. I tend to wear light and breathable clothing, turn off the heating in my room and sleep with a fan. I've never been fond of the hot weather, and I live in Scotland after all, so we're used to gloomy weather and rain. I tend to choose to stay inside if it’s a sweltering day because I’d rather not trigger my symptoms.

Sickness can trigger a flare

The third thing that triggers my symptoms is being unwell. I’ve noticed my symptoms flare more if I have a little cold. An MS nurse told me this when I thought I was going through a relapse, but I was really just not feeling well.

Stress, a major NMO symptom trigger

The fourth thing that triggers my NMO symptoms is feeling stressed or upset. This is a big trigger for me as I stress out all the time. I always get pain in the back of my neck, headaches, and nerve pain all over my body whenever I am stressed or upset. I usually notice a burning sensation at the back of my neck whenever I start to feel overwhelmed with negative emotions. To help with this, I try to do breathing exercises and have also recently went on anti-depressants to control my anxiety.


Feeling tired can trigger NMO symptoms too. My eyesight usually goes blurry whenever I feel exhausted, and my left leg hurts a lot. My attack has left lasting damage to my left leg. Standing for too long triggers my MS hug, which is a symptom that feels like someone squeezing my rips too tight. It’s really uncomfortable, so whenever I feel tired, I let myself rest for however long I need. I also make sure I’m eating right. I'll take painkillers if the pain becomes unbearable.

I have various triggers, but I have found many ways to work around them.

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