035: Do You Know What Triggers Your Herpes Outbreaks? with Alexandra Harbushka

What provokes your outbreaks understanding your body

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Life With Herpes Podcast



One of the questions I get asked the most is what triggers an outbreak? Do you know what triggers your herpes outbreaks? I know what two of mine are, and I share them on today’s show.


I also share my strategies for avoiding my triggers, and dealing with an outbreak when it does happen. Join me for that and more on episode 35 of Life With Herpes.

More About Life With Herpes


When we talk about triggers, I’ll start by sharing what my top two are: sleep and changing time zones.


Ever since I was a child I've needed more sleep than the average person. I need 9 hours to be at my best. I'm very cautious about getting enough of it because I know how important it is for my well-being.


I can be okay if I have an off night where I get less than 9, I just have to be certain I get 10 or 11 hours the next night. But if I have multiple days of inadequate sleep I know that is absolutely a trigger for an outbreak. With a few nights of poor sleep, I start to feel my body shutting down, everything from my immune system to my brain.


Now you might be different because everyone's body is different. In fact, you might be someone who needs very little sleep. I’d call you a shark - sharks never sleep, and never stop moving!


If you are someone who doesn't get a lot of sleep then try getting more and see how you feel. My fiancee didn't always sleep a lot until we were together. Now he gets plenty of sleep and he feels the difference! You might be the same way so try going to bed earlier and see if you notice any changes.

Even if you can't sleep just go to bed and rest. Try reading a book or relaxing in some way until you can sleep. Giving your body a chance to rest is key to maintaining your health.


I said I have two main triggers, we’ve already talked about the first trigger which is lack of sleep. The second trigger for me is changing time zones. Generally, anything that requires more than 5 hours of a travel will trigger a herpes outbreak. Usually, if I'm in the car it's not a big deal, it's not as stressful on my body. But if I'm on a plane for that long it is stressful and it will cause my body to have an outbreak.


Tweetable:  “Know your body and find out what your own triggers are.” - Alexandra Harbushka


I think some of this is because often before I travel I stay up late, get up early and generally run around like a chicken with my head cut off! I believe doing so stresses my body so much that when I add on time zone changes, my body suffers and I have an outbreak.


Now that we’ve talked about triggers, let’s talk about prevention.


The first thing I recommend is sleep. Start looking at things that prevent you from sleeping: being on your laptop or watching TV late into the night, or drinking alcohol. Believe it or not, alcohol prevents you from getting a good night's sleep. I know if I have 2 glasses of wine I won't sleep well that night.


Another recommendation I have for preventing an outbreak is exercise, make sure you get plenty of exercise. Definitely, don't exercise to the point that you exhaust yourself, but make sure you move your body and get your blood pumping.


My other recommendation is to take care of your body with extra vitamins and minerals, eat healthy foods and stay hydrated. Before I travel I double up on my vitamins and minerals. Then when I arrive at my destination, I let my body adjust before going back to my usual amount and before indulging in food or drink.


The point is to to find out what your own triggers are and know your body. Your triggers may be completely different than mine. Do you know what they are? Let me know in the private Slack group, after you listen to episode 35 of Life With Herpes.

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