What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is an illness indicating amnesia, sleeplessness, constant exhaustion and mood swings/ temper issues also followed by heavy discomfort and aches throughout the muscular and skeletal organs. Fibromyalgia pain can sometimes be so extreme and persistent that it keeps people from even wanting to leave their homes. It can retain them from doing the activities and hobbies they once used to enjoy. According to a National Health Interview Survey conducted in 2012, about 87% of the patients surveyed go through widespread pain everyday of their lives. Being in this continuous pain, it often causes patients to catch mental disorders such as anxiety, depression along with frustration and bad temper. Along with that, fibromyalgia also causes thinking difficulties and memory loss, this is known as Fibro Fog. Studies show that more than 50% of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia suffer from Fibro Fog. The chances of women getting diagnosed with Fibromyalgia are way more than the chances of men getting diagnosed with it. Roughly 90% of fibromyalgia patients are women which leads to only 10% being males. This is because of the difference in men and women’s pain tolerance and how their body responds to discomfort.
Causes and Symptoms
Some of the causes and symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Studies have shown that fibromyalgia is way more common in people who are not active and don’t participate in physical activities.
Gender plays a big part in the chances of getting fibromyalgia. Women are much more likely to get diagnosed than men.
People who have suffered from physical or mental abuse or a traumatic and/or depressive episode or PTSD in the past are at a higher risk of getting this disease. This is because the symptoms of trauma and PTSD increases the tension you apply on your joints and muscles increasing physical pain.
A main factor that contributes to someone having fibromyalgia is genes. It might be passed down to you by your parents, or someone else in the family causing you to be more sensitive to pain than normal. Some mental disorders are also passed down through genes like depression or anxiety which add to the physical pain you already experience.
Some of the main symptoms of this disease are Fatigue, stiffness, low pain tolerance, migraines and headaches, constantly feeling sad and losing interest in things you once used to enjoy. Symptoms can differ from person to person and even from time to time. It often depends on the patient’s mood, like how happy or stressed they are; and how physically active they are. Being more physically active can make pain levels reduce by a lot. Chronic pain is commonly treated with exercise. It can help relieve symptoms, enhance recovery and lower the pain level in your body. It is a much better treatment than wasting money on heavy medication and drugs.
Treatment and Habits
Although this disorder is permanent and cannot be cured, there are still ways to ease and lessen the pain. Everyone has different coping mechanisms that work well for them, but might not work for someone else. Everybody’s different and has unique ways to cope with fibromyalgia but there are common ways used by many people which help alleviate their pain for a decent amount of time. Here are some ways to treat fibromyalgia pain:
Using medication is a widely known way to relieve widespread pain for a certain amount of time. When a patient is feeling unbearable pain, medications are definitely a big help. Some of these medications include Antidepressants or Pain killers. While using medications, it’s critical to acknowledge all the side effects that come with it. Side effects might make your condition worse than it already is, which is why it is important to find the perfect medications for yourself before using them regularly.
- Working Out
One of the best ways to treat fibromyalgia is to exercise and keep yourself active and moving at most times. Exercise is a key factor for fibromyalgia patients because it helps reduce obesity which reduces the amounts of pain. It also not only helps in pain but also in other symptoms like fatigue, insomnia and even anxiety and depression!
Recent researches have proved that people who reserve time for exercise happen to be happier throughout the day than the people who don’t. In addition to that, they are also more successful and active than the people who do not take out time to exercise. When we workout, our bodies produce substances that enhance our state of wellbeing and feeling energetic while also reducing stress and anxiety-inducing hormones. So working out isn’t just good to treat fibromyalgia but it’s also a very good way to get yourself feeling energetic and happy even when you aren’t a patient!
Another well-liked suggestion for fibromyalgia patients is yoga. Yoga uses its well-maintained ways to stretch your body and loosen up and soothe the muscles in a gentle way. It also assists the growth of stamina, balance and strength, yoga also helps to clear the mind from any stress or anxiety and your mind comes to a state of relaxation. Along with yoga, meditation and deep breathing are widely known methods to clear the mind and become a bit more relaxed.
Diet plays a huge role for not only patients of chronic diseases but for everyone. Having a healthy diet and being conscious of the food we consume and its properties is crucial for a person’s wellbeing. Therefore, it is essential for fibromyalgia patients to be conscious about what they consume on a daily basis. So here are a few foods patients of fibromyalgia are suggested to avoid:
Caffeine comes in so many different types and it is contained in everyday items that we consume like tea, different kinds of coffee, chocolate, sodas and energy drinks, supplements and medications and many more. Most people mistake caffeine as an energy provider, but doctors have pleaded that while you might feel energized for the time being, it just adds to your tiredness and fatigue even more after a short period of time which lasts significantly longer than the time you were feeling energized. So, as much as you might enjoy eating or drinking these items, it’s best you avoid them if you are a patient.
Gluten has often shown to cause inflammation and to trigger fibromyalgia pain. It is also considered an unhealthy ingredient in general. People who have avoided gluten have seen better changes in their health.
- Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners as well as sugar have been linked to the development of fibromyalgia or the aggravation of already existing chronic pain. Dr. Teitelbaum from the US Washington University quotes, “Sugar aggravates low blood sugar and adrenal problems, yeast overgrowth, and nutritional deficiencies that worsen fibromyalgia.”
It is highly recommended for fibromyalgia patients to avoid dairy products like milk, cheese etc. This is because dairy products carry lots of saturated fats. There are lots of substitutes that are suggested. For example almond milk, soy milk and many other options. These are low-fat options which can be way more beneficial.
What foods should you intake?
A balanced diet is key to feeling energized and having good overall health. Here are some foods to add to your diet which are beneficial for people diagnosed with fibromyalgia:
- Foods high in protein and fiber.
- Low in carbohydrates
- Fruits that are low on the glycemic index (e.g strawberries, pears, apples, cherries, grapefruit, plum etc.)
- Vegetables (e.g avocados, beans, tofu & broccoli etc)
- Whole Grains (e.g oatmeal, buckwheat, whole wheat bread, pasta, brown rice etc.)
What can i do to help someone with fibromyalgia?
There are so many ways you can help your family and friends who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia:
- Emotional Support
People with this disorder are under stress, anxiety and depression almost all the time. So letting them know that you care about them and are there for them makes them feel a little, if not a lot better. It gives them hope that someone is there to give them support and it will give them hope to keep going just because you are supporting them in their decisions.
- Help them find hobbies
By doing this, you keep them busy and it takes their mind off of their pain and mental baggage. Help them set a daily routine and if they live with you, give hem tasks from time to time to make them feel like they are needed in your household.
- Talk to them often
Talk to them and listen to what they have to say. This will make them feel like they have someone who they can trust and that will help their mental state by letting them know that they are not alone in what they are going through.
- Have fun with them
Find out things that they enjoy and hang out with them. Things like playing video games, watching movies, discussing their favorite book. Any hobby will work, as long as they have fun and it takes their mind away from the pain.