Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

From Fibromyalgia Treating:

Both of these conditions cause the kind of long-term fatigue that you might be experiencing, and both are devastating to have to live with. So, it’s important that if you think there’s a chance you have either condition that you take the time to learn more about them and how they are managed. So what are chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and what can be done to treat them?

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Doctors don’t know much about chronic fatigue syndrome. They don’t know what causes it, and in fact, they aren’t completely sure what it even is. Some suspect that it might be an autoimmune condition or the late stages of some previously undescribed disease.

But regardless of what chronic fatigue syndrome actually is, there are a few symptoms that are a dead give away. First, there is the fatigue. Obviously, the main sign of chronic fatigue syndrome is that it causes you to feel tired over a long period. Doctors consider any fatigue lasting from 3-6 months to be “chronic.”

People with chronic fatigue syndrome feel a chronic fatigue that is hard to cope with. They often nod off during the day at bad times or have a hard time performing mentally challenging tasks due to the fact that they are constantly exhausted.

But what sets chronic fatigue syndrome apart from the many other diseases that cause chronic fatigue is that there are also some physical symptoms. Often in chronic fatigue syndrome, patients get frequent sore throats and muscle pains. This had led to the speculation that chronic fatigue syndrome is an autoimmune disorder since these are symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders, but so far there’s not medical consensus on the issue.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia leaves sufferers feeling run down much of the time. On top of the fact that people with fibromyalgia often have a hard time sleeping, the condition itself leaves them feeling fatigued. And also like with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia seems to have no obvious cause.

Some doctors think it’s an autoimmune disorder and others blame everything from diet to overactive microglia in the brain. But no matter what the actual cause of fibromyalgia is, the symptoms are often hard to deal with. There’s the chronic fatigue but also the extreme pain in the muscles that seems to flare up from time to time and the mental fog that makes it difficult to think. In addition, there’s a wide variety of more unusual symptoms such as chronic itching and IBS.

How Are Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Fibromyalgia Treated?

If you have either chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, you’re probably most concerned with finding a cure. Unfortunately, there isn’t much in the way of an effective cure at the moment… for either condition. That means that by and large your life after a chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia diagnosis will mostly be limited to trying to find some way to manage such disabling conditions.

Luckily, there are a few different ways that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are treated. For fibromyalgia, the only drugs that are officially approved for treatment are anti-depressants. For some people who suffer from fibromyalgia, these anti-depressants are effective in treating their symptoms. But others find little relief from them. But there are a number of other drugs that people with fibromyalgia turn to, particularly a class of drugs called anticonvulsants. Though these are usually used for treating epilepsy, many people with fibromyalgia feel that they work well for their symptoms.

This is also similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, which is often treated with antidepressants as well. But other ways to manage chronic fatigue focus on things like diet and exercise. While these are certainly not a cure for the condition, they can help quite a lot with the severity of your symptoms. And this is also the case with fibromyalgia as patients who maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle consistently report less severe fibromyalgia symptoms.

And that shows the degree to which chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are related. Both produce similar symptoms and are treated in similar ways. And until doctors know what causes these conditions, being able to manage them is, unfortunately, the best people who suffer from them will be able to hope for. But managing the conditions starts with learning about them.

Information is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and is posted here for sharing purposes only.
Image from Flickr

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Fibro Awareness HOPE

May is Fibromyalgia Month, and May 12th is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, the day chosen to raise awareness and knowledge of this debilitating chronic illness.

Statistics vary-depending on who you ask, and many individuals are misdiagnosed… sometimes for years, but it is believed 5-7 million people suffer from Fibromyalgia. The National Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association believes the numbers are as high as 12 million to 20 million.

What is Fibromyalgia? The word “fibromyalgia” is a combination of Greek and Latin that essentially means fibrous tissue/muscle pain. Therefore, the very meaning of the word says volumes about the condition itself, with the keyword being “pain.” The Mayo Clinic provides a very broad summary of the symptoms, which include:

  • Widespread pain – this is typically characterized by a dull ache that lasts for at least three months. “Widespread” from a medical perspective means that the pain and/or tenderness is on both sides of the body and is also both above and below the waist.
  • Fatigue – If a patient with fibromyalgia can sleep at night (insomnia is very common), they frequently wake during sleeping hours due to pain. No sleep or poor sleep causes fatigue during waking hours and can make it difficult to function and focus. Furthermore, fibromyalgia patients also have other disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome which are additional reasons for waking frequently throughout the night.
  • “Fibro fog” – Cognitive impairments such as difficulty concentrating on mental tasks, feeling “hazy,” or the inability to think clearly.
  • Other problems – And here’s where it gets crazy. The list of symptoms that fall into the category of “other” are varied, but include conditions such as headaches, abdominal cramping, anxiety, depression, burning sensations either on the skin or from within, IBS, intense itching, muscle and joint pain, as well as hypersensitivity to pain, medications, cold weather, foods, physical touch, and more. Let’s not forget random sensations of cold and tingling, mood swings, abnormally painful menstruation, joint stiffness, a feeling of pins and needles, muscle spasms, and delayed onset muscle soreness.

Researchers claim that fibromyalgia is far more common in women than men. However, as the criteria have ceased focusing on the number of tender points a patient has, more men are being diagnosed as well. In fact, fibromyalgia has not been recognized as an actual problem for all that long in the United States. Thankfully, pharmaceuticals have been approved and used for several years now that are specifically directed to fibro patients, with varying results.

Diagnosing it has been tough because it’s so difficult to pin-point a problem due to overlapping symptoms and the similarity of fibromyalgia to other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. That is to say, many people have depression, or IBS, or muscle spasms, or fatigue, or joint stiffness.

This makes diagnosis difficult! I was misdiagnosed. Three of my sisters AND our mother were misdiagnosed. My two older sisters and I also have osteoarthritis (joint replacement queens!), but our younger sister has Lupus and our mother has Scleroderma – and the younger sister and mom both have Raynaud’s Syndrome and implanted defibrillators. Mom has a pacemaker too.

Obviously, there is a genetic connection… it just hasn’t been discovered yet. I’m personally curious about the benefits of finding the genetic link because in my family’s case – five members have Fibromyalgia, and our symptoms, pain issues, and even treatment plans are nothing alike. This can also be said of any of ten individuals with Fibromyalgia… or a hundred.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle Fibro sufferers face is we do not look sick, and this is something we have in common with individuals who live with other chronic illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Doctors, family, friends and coworkers can all be skeptical and unsupportive simply because you do not look as bad as you SAY you feel.

It’s a struggle.

Things are improving… rapidly in some cases. Where Fibromyalgia was considered a psychological condition just a few short years ago, it’s now recognized for the neurasthenic musculoskeletal pain syndrome it is. This is encouraging. Doctors and healthcare providers are becoming more aware AND informed. This is major. Fibro patients are no longer considered hypochondriacs or fakers and brushed aside with a bottle of pills. There is no cure for Fibromyalgia. But different courses of treatment are being found successful for some patients.

Think you may have been misdiagnosed, or are suffering in silence? Answer this fibromyalgia questionnaire and share the results with your doctor. Knowledge is power and we all need to be better informed.

Fibromyalgia is classified as a rheumatologic neurologic disease and the best doctor to diagnose it is a rheumatologist… but primary care physicians can be successful in diagnosing and treating Fibromyalgia also.

The National Fibromyalgia Association is a great resource in helping individuals with every aspect of their condition including community resources and finding a fibro-knowledgeable physician in your area.

 

Some information shared from FibromyalgiaTreating.com.
Image from SewCream/Shutterstock.

6 Painless Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Hands

Fibromyalgia pain can easily derail your entire life. It’s an agonizing and seemingly endless experience that leaves you unable to do the things that other people take for granted. But while that pain is the most noticeable symptom and the one that usually sends people to the doctor for the first time, there are a large number of painless symptoms of fibromyalgia.

And because many of these symptoms aren’t things that people typically associate with fibromyalgia, they often go unnoticed, which can delay getting a diagnosis. So, here are some painless symptoms of fibromyalgia that you should watch out for.

Fibro Fog

One of the most common painless symptoms of fibromyalgia – and one that’s hard to recognize- is what’s called “fibro fog.” Essentially, this is a kind of mental haze that affects people with fibromyalgia from time to time and results in a range of mental symptoms.

Usually, fibro fog makes it hard to focus on daily tasks or causes you to forget simple details you just learned. It isn’t uncommon for someone with fibro fog to do something like leaving their house keys in the door or spend half an hour looking for their cell phone only to realize it’s in their hand.

Anxiety

Anxiety is another common painless symptom of fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, everyone feels anxious from time to time, and a huge number of people around the world suffer from anxiety disorders. For instance, 18% of all Americans struggle with serious anxiety on a daily basis, making it the most common mental illness in the country.

But persistent anxiety is also associated with fibromyalgia. And that means that if you are experiencing panic attacks or feelings of dread regularly you may have the condition.

Frequent Bowel Movements

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that affects around 10% of the world’s population. And it’s characterized by a wide range of trouble with your bowels. It can make you constipated or do the opposite and cause you to have frequent diarrhea. It is actually a much more serious problem than the name might suggest.

But, fibromyalgia can often result in symptoms that are similar to IBS. And people with fibromyalgia often end up feeling constipated or having frequent bowel movements.

So if you find yourself going to the bathroom frequently (or not frequently enough) you might just be suffering from fibromyalgia.

Frequent Urination

Another one of the strange but painless symptoms of fibromyalgia is frequent urination. Essentially, someone who suffers from this symptom will find they have an uncontrollable need to urinate frequently no matter how little they drink or how often they go.

And while that might not sound like a serious problem, imagine having to urinate really badly but not being able to get up because of your severe fibromyalgia pain. Or imagine having the little bit of sleep you are able to get interrupted by a need to use the bathroom. That makes frequent urination a pretty unpleasant symptom to have.

Continue article here: 6 Painless Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Wyatt Redd / April 19, 2017 (From FibromyalgiaTreating.com)

 

Image from Pexels.

Fibro and MS: What Are the Differences?

Disabled Body

A few days ago, my blogger-buddy over at Dinosaurs, Donkeys and MS blogged about 10 Things About Living with MS, and it brought back to mind not only how similar Multiple Sclerosis and Fibromyalgia are but also how they are often misdiagnosed and/or incorrectly identified for each other (or several other chronic  illnesses).

While I have several female cousins with MS, I do not have MS. I was incorrectly diagnosed with it in late 1998, even though lab work did not back up the diagnosis. Two years…and three doctors later, I finally got the correct diagnosis – Degenerative Joint Disease complicated by Fibromyalgia.

No, I didn’t ‘doctor shop’. My mother had gone through the same situation twelve years earlier being misdiagnosed with MS and Systemic Lupus, before her Systemic Scleroderma was identified. Mom warned me the only thing worse than the chronic pain the disease causes was having a doctor who didn’t listen and refused to research chronic illnesses.

Of course, she was right.

Getting the right diagnosis brings peace of mind. Self-doubt and depression will wear you down – not to mention exacerbate the illness – after countless trips to see a doctor and being told all tests were negative and x-rays/CT scans/MRIs showed nothing.

Unfortunately, getting the right diagnosis does not bring a cure… because one does not exist… for Fibromyalgia or Multiple Sclerosis or the more than fifty other recognized invisible illnesses.

Why invisible? Because NINETY-SIX PERCENT of people with these chronic medical conditions show NO outward sign of their illness.

Simply put – we don’t look sick. But out of this same group 10% experience symptoms that are considered disabling.

Guess who’s in THAT number? Trust me, it’s not a team I chose to be on.

It’s vital that we all be advocates for our own health care and the LEADER of the team, especially when a chronic illness is suspected. However, you cannot diagnose yourself. The best doctor for that is a rheumatologist. But you cannot be helped unless you tell your doctor EVERYTHING. Every ache, pain, migraine, rash, reaction to foods, light, sounds, smells – everything.

The information below is from FightingFibromyalgia.net and posted here for sharing purposes only. It is good information and much more is on their website. But please understand, pull up any two Fibromyalgia websites and you WILL find they contradict each other in several areas. They’re not trying to mislead-they just happen to follow different studies. There are LOTS of studies – thousands. I’ve personally been in six.

We need cures. We needed them yesterday. We need doctors, researchers, and chronic illness foundations to get on the same page. We need them to work together, not on countless studies with varying results.

Most importantly, we need them to listen to us – the five million people in this country who live with these devastating illnesses every. Single. Day.

Be well.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Fibro and MS: What Are the Differences? ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis are two diagnoses that you never
want to hear from your doctor.

Both involve muscle and joint pain, and neither can be cured. There are
treatments for both of these diseases, but there is no getting rid of them.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread, chronic pain
throughout the body. The exact cause of it is unknown, but scientists
have narrowed down some factors that play a role in developing the disease.

*The symptoms of fibromyalgia include the following:*

* Pain
* Anxiety
* Memory problems and concentration issues
* Depression
* Fatigue
* Headaches
* IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome)
* Morning stiffness and aches
* Sleep issues and fatigue
* Numbness and tingling in hands, arms, legs and feet
* Tender or trigger points
* Urinary problems such as pain or frequency
* Rash/red skin particularly on the face

The constant pain patients experience is what often sends them to their
doctor. It is the most common symptom of fibromyalgia, and can often be
de-habilitating.

Fatigue is the second most common among fibromyalgia sufferers. Everyday
activities such as ironing, grocery shopping or walking the dog can
leave victims feeling extremely exhausted.

What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis is classified as an autoimmune disease of the central
nervous system, which includes the brain and spine. The disease attacks
the proactive covering of nerves, which is called myelin.

This causes inflammation and often leaves the myelin damaged. Myelin is needed for the transmission of nerve impulses through nerve fibres. If the myelin damage is little, nerve impulses can travel with little disruption. However, if nerve damage is extreme, disruptions can be frequent causing damage to the nerve fibres.

Multiple Sclerosis is unpredictable and can differ greatly from person
to person. It is often diagnosed in people ages fifteen to forty. The
highest number of cases of multiple sclerosis in the world is in Canada.

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary depending on the severity of the
nerve damage.

*Common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:*

* Balance issues and dizziness
* Bladder issues
* Bowel issues
* Blurred vision
* Slurred speech
* Depression
* Fatigue
* Pain
* Difficulty walking
* Sensory impairment; numbness and tingling
* Weakness
* Sexual dysfunction

It is important to keep track of your symptoms when you first start
experiencing them, so your doctor can determine the accurate diagnosis,
and properly monitor the disease.

The Differences Between Fibromyalgia and Multiple Sclerosis

Fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis are both potentially debilitating
diseases that can lead to chronic pain.

Fibromyalgia is often characterized by muscle pain, stiffness in
muscles, extreme fatigue and difficulty sleeping. Multiple Sclerosis has
a variety of symptoms including visual problems, bladder control issues,
muscle weakness and painful muscle spasms.

There are similarities in some symptoms, and the fact that both diseases
are more common in women than men. As well, neither has a specific cause
known. However, there are massive distinctions between the two diseases
as well.

Although fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis share a few similar
symptoms they are very different conditions. (Blogger’s Note: True, yet they are STILL misdiagnosed!)

It is estimated that approximately five million people in America have
fibromyalgia. Patients complain of widespread muscle pain and
tenderness, generally in areas of the neck, shoulders, back and hips.

Extreme muscle stiffness is often present in the morning, but tends to
fade throughout the day. Many with fibromyalgia experience insomnia and
severe fatigue. Patients also experience headaches, anxiety, depression
and difficulty concentrating.

As already mentioned the cause of fibromyalgia has not been determined,
but researchers believe it is linked to hormonal abnormalities and the
immune system.

According to studies, approximately 300,000 people in the US suffer from
multiple sclerosis. This is a significantly smaller number than those
who are affected by fibromyalgia.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is classified as an autoimmune disorder, while
fibromyalgia is not. An overactive immune system is believed to trigger
an attack on the body and tissue on the spinal cord, which leads to MS
symptoms.

Those who suffer from multiple sclerosis tend to experience blurry
vision, difficulty walking and bladder control issues. MS symptoms tend
to fluctuate over. Unlike fibromyalgia, they are not more intense in the
morning.

Diagnosis for both diseases is often done by ruling out other causes.
For fibromyalgia, the tender points are often what lead doctors to their
final diagnosis. For multiple sclerosis, there are various tests
including blood tests, spinal taps and MRIs.

Treatments for Each Condition

The approach in treatment for fibromyalgia is different from that of
multiple sclerosis patients.

Fibromyalgia can often be treated with over-the-counter medications such
as Tylenol or ibuprofen. Lifestyle changes can also help improve the
symptoms of this disease.

These changes may include reducing stress, following a specific sleep
schedule, exercising regularly and decreasing your caffeine intake.

Multiple sclerosis treatment may also include over-the-counter pain
medication, but more often has prescribed medication as well as physical
therapy, speech therapy, stress management and reduction, cognitive
behaviour therapy and acupuncture. Necessary lifestyle changes may
include switching to a low-fat diet, increasing your fiber intake,
stretching and exercising regularly.

Takeaway

While there are a few similarities in the symptoms and treatment of
fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis, the two diseases differ greatly.
Both are life-altering and difficult to diagnosis. Neither has been
given a specific known cause. However, the similarities end there.

Fibromyalgia is much more common than multiple sclerosis affecting
nearly seventeen times the number of people in the United States. MS
affects vision, speech, cognitive behaviour and a person’s ability to
walk, while fibromyalgia does not. Fibromyalgia is characterized by a
musculoskeletal pain, while multiple sclerosis is viewed as an
autoimmune disease.

It is important to see your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms
related to either of these diseases. Both require immediate attention
and treatment to relieve your pain and discomfort. It is also necessary
to note that it is possible to be diagnosed with both fibromyalgia and
multiple sclerosis.

 

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Fibromyalgia: Is there a worst case scenario?


Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay


Have you ever wondered what the absolute worst case of fibromyalgia would be? After all, it’s a disease that affects everyone differently. And it makes sense that some people are affected by it more severely than others.

So what would be the worst case of fibromyalgia? How severely could it affect your life? And what could you do to treat it?

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a disease that is not well understood. Essentially, it creates a general feeling of pain and fatigue around your body. There are a number of possible explanations for what causes fibromyalgia, but no one is sure what the right one is.

Some doctors believe that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease. That means that the body’s immune system begins to attack the healthy cells which make them inflamed and tender and causes aching in certain points around your body.

While no one knows exactly what the cause of fibromyalgia is, it’s a debilitating illness that affects people in a lot of different ways.

What Does It Do To Your Body?

Fibromyalgia causes a number of very different symptoms. And it varies so much that no two people have the exact same reaction to fibromyalgia. However, the most common system and one that all fibromyalgia sufferers have is chronic pain.

The pain is located along 18 specific points of the body. These are usually in your joints on both sides of the body and the level of pain can be different for different people. The level of pain can also change throughout the day.

And another common symptom for people with fibromyalgia is fatigue. Fibromyalgia sufferers often find that they can’t sleep very well, and when they do, they don’t wake up feeling refreshed the next day. As a result, people with fibromyalgia end up feeling something that is usually called a “fibro-fog.”

Fibro-fog is the name for a sort of mental cloudiness that comes with fibromyalgia. It usually presents as short-term memory loss, or trouble focusing on tasks.

Finally, fibromyalgia can cause some slightly more unusual symptoms. People with fibromyalgia often have irritable bowel syndrome, and gastrointestinal problems are very common among people who have fibromyalgia. And there are other conditions like constant itching which sometimes affect fibromyalgia sufferers.

What’s The Worst Case Of Fibromyalgia?

So if you’ve been diagnosed, you’re probably wondering how bad your fibromyalgia might actually get (what the worst case of fibromyalgia might be, basically).

Well, the good news is that your fibromyalgia won’t kill you. But fibromyalgia can still severely limit your quality of life.

Fibromyalgia affects many people by causing them to feel a constant feeling of pain and fatigue. So for people who have fibromyalgia, daily life can get very difficult.And the stories of people who have suffered from the illness for decades are heartbreaking.

Generally, fibromyalgia begins in its early stages with some warning signs. These are things like chronic fatigue and mysterious pain in eighteen points around the body. This pain is what causes most fibromyalgia patients to go to the doctor for a diagnosis. Though, if you have fibromyalgia, you probably already know how that goes.

Fibromyalgia then progresses into the chronic stage, where the pain and fatigue are constant. This is what most fibromyalgia patients live with every day. And though there are treatments, not all are effective. And everyone’s fibromyalgia seems to respond differently to different drugs.

Even the most up to date and cutting edge treatments might be completely ineffective for a lot of people. And this kind of treatment-resistant condition is the worst case of fibromyalgia since it is unresponsive to treatment and can often seem to get worse.

This is a tricky subject to discuss with any certainty, however. While most doctors will say that fibromyalgia isn’t a progressive disease for most people, some sufferers definitely report that their disease gets worse over time.

Can Fibromyalgia Make You Disabled?

So if you’ve just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, there’s a chance that your pain and fatigue levels might begin to plateau and stay roughly where they are, though some days will be worse than others.

But in the worst case of fibromyalgia, the disease will get more painful and debilitating over time.

For people whose situation is the worst case of fibromyalgia, they will likely suffer their entire lives with constant, and unmanageable pain. This leads to serious problems in their daily lives.

Often, they lose their jobs due to the fact that they are effectively disabled. The constant pain and fatigue and the mental cloudiness, or fibro fog, makes working impossible.

And for people with extremely severe fibromyalgia, even getting out of bed is close to impossible. They require heavy doses of painkillers to even walk. And it takes them heavy doses of sleeping medication to get anything close to a full night’s sleep.

For those people who have the worst case of fibromyalgia, every day is a physical struggle. But it can be an emotionally struggle as well.

Can The Worst Case Of Fibromyalgia Affect Your Relationships?

Having severe fibromyalgia makes it difficult to maintain relationships with friends and family. People who used to enjoy your company sometimes drift away because your chronic pain and lack of mobility become tough for them to deal with. While that isn’t even remotely fair, it’s often how people are.

So in the worst case of fibromyalgia, expect to lose some of the friends you had who aren’t really friends. But the good side is that you will see who truly cares about you because they will stick around.

In addition, dealing with such a severely limited quality of life is extremely difficult emotionally. The constant pain can make it feel like life isn’t worth living. And suicide is tragically common among people with severe fibromyalgia.

It’s important to get help if you feel like you might be considering taking your own life. Suicide is never a good solution, and the saying that “it doesn’t end the pain, it only spreads it to the people who care about you,” is very true.

Fibromyalgia is a horrific disease to live with. And it takes a special kind of courage to endure the worst case of fibromyalgia.

(The preceding article is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com. For this and other Fibromyalgia-related articles, please visit their informative website.)

 

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