Fibromyalgia manifests with a wide range of symptoms, making it a unique and individualized disorder for each person. A common characteristic is the presence of chronic pain without a known organic cause. Natural remedies can offer effective support in managing the condition.
It is crucial to recognize that fibromyalgia is not a passing fad or a newly discovered disease. Rather, it is likely a condition that has existed for a long time, now given a name that describes the primary symptom: muscle fiber pain. However, the symptoms can vary greatly, leading many patients to visit numerous healthcare providers for years before receiving a definitive fibromyalgia diagnosis.
According to the EPISER study in 2000, fibromyalgia affected approximately 2.4% of the Spanish population, with a higher incidence in women compared to men, about four times more. Sometimes, similar symptoms may be diagnosed as fibromyalgia in women, while in men, they might be labeled as stress or burnout syndrome. But what exactly does a person with fibromyalgia experience?”
Please note that fibromyalgia is a complex condition, and if you suspect you or someone you know may have it, it’s essential to seek professional medical advice for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
What does a person with fibromyalgia feel?
Fibromyalgia is a whole collection of different symptoms. This is what a person with fibromyalgia can feel:
1. Diffuse and persistent pain
The primary symptom of fibromyalgia is the presence of widespread and persistent pain throughout the body. Patients often find it challenging to pinpoint the exact location of the pain as it seems to be present in various areas, including joints, muscles, and even organs. The pain can also shift from one place to another, with fluctuations in intensity.
Fortunately, individuals with fibromyalgia may experience good days with minimal discomfort. However, any physical exertion, overload, changes in weather (hot or cold), excessive stress, intense physical activity, or infections can trigger the return of pain. Managing these triggers becomes essential for those living with fibromyalgia.
2. “Niebla” Mental
Numerous individuals often encounter a sensation of mental fog or reduced mental clarity, leading to difficulties in concentration and occasional memory lapses.
3. Sensitivity to cold and heat
A significant number of fibromyalgia patients have heightened sensitivity to cold and drafts, often feeling much colder than others find comfortable.
On the other hand, when temperatures rise during summer, the heat can also become bothersome for those with fibromyalgia, leading to sudden sweats and hot flashes.
4. Excessive sensitivity to irritation
Likewise, individuals with fibromyalgia may develop heightened sensitivity to various stimuli:
- Noise and sounds can be perceived as highly unpleasant. They tend to avoid situations with multiple people talking simultaneously, like eating at a busy bar or attending parties, and even the sound of a fork clinking on a plate can be bothersome.
- Bright light is equally uncomfortable, and wearing sunglasses becomes essential to mitigate discomfort when outside.
- Smells can become overwhelming for them, even subtle odors that others might not notice can be extremely bothersome.
- They have a constant desire to ventilate rooms and struggle to be in spaces with multiple people wearing perfumes or deodorants.
- Physical contact is also experienced as unpleasant, where firm touches or massages can be bothersome, and even light rubbing may cause discomfort.
Managing these sensitivities can be crucial for individuals with fibromyalgia to enhance their overall well-being and comfort.
5. Digestive and sleep disorders
In fibromyalgia, falling asleep is generally not a significant issue, but staying asleep can be challenging. Many individuals with fibromyalgia wake up after a few hours of sleep and struggle to fall back asleep, leading to feelings of exhaustion and reduced productivity in the morning.
Additionally, it is not uncommon for fibromyalgia patients to receive an irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) diagnosis due to the presence of corresponding symptoms. These symptoms may include abdominal cramps, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, or alternating episodes of diarrhea and constipation. Managing these symptoms can be crucial in improving the overall well-being of those affected by fibromyalgia.
6. Depression and anxiety
Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with anxiety and depression. In some cases, individuals may experience depression before the onset of pain, while in others, it may develop during the course of fibromyalgia. This is not surprising considering that the condition itself can be highly stressful, leading to emotional challenges for those affected. Addressing the mental health aspects of fibromyalgia is vital in providing comprehensive care and support to patients.
7. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels
Numerous individuals with fibromyalgia experience challenges with their blood sugar levels. They appear to be more sensitive to carbohydrates than others, leading to fluctuations in blood sugar that result in debilitating periods of hypoglycemia. This can cause symptoms like dizziness, palpitations, difficulties in concentration, and night sweats.
It is essential to note that these symptoms can have various underlying causes, and one of them could be gluten intolerance. Identifying the root cause is crucial in providing appropriate management and support for individuals dealing with fibromyalgia and related symptoms.
7. Many more symptoms
In addition to the common symptoms, some individuals with fibromyalgia may also experience a range of other issues. These can include shortness of breath, irritable bladder, headaches, facial pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), numbness or tingling in the extremities, dry mucous membranes, dry eyes, forgetfulness, a sensation of stiffness, swelling due to fluid retention, itching, atopic dermatitis, and profuse night sweats.
It is essential to recognize and address these diverse symptoms to provide comprehensive care and support to those managing fibromyalgia.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Many individuals affected by fibromyalgia endure such intense symptoms that they find it challenging to lead a normal life. Simple household tasks become impossible, and they may be unable to go to work. The constant dizziness, fatigue, lapses in memory, and lack of concentration also increase the risk of accidents, making fibromyalgia a condition that cannot be ignored.
Moreover, visits to doctors and specialists often yield inconclusive results. Extensive tests, including blood tests, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and endoscopies, may not reveal any definitive cause for their symptoms. As a result, fibromyalgia is typically diagnosed when a collection of symptoms, including widespread pain and physical and mental exhaustion, cannot be linked to any other specific cause.
In reality, each person with fibromyalgia experiences the condition differently. Some may primarily suffer from psychological distress, while others endure physical symptoms. Additionally, certain individuals are highly sensitive to external stimuli.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by body-wide pain, extreme fatigue, and muscle stiffness. People with fibromyalgia may exhibit heightened pain sensitivity compared to those without the condition and may also experience symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and concentration problems.
Due to the lack of definitive organic changes detectable by standard tests, fibromyalgia diagnosis has traditionally relied on symptom assessment. This lack of objective tests has sometimes led some healthcare professionals to consider it a problem of psychological or nervous origin. Consequently, diagnosis delays can span months or even years, as patients undergo numerous medical consultations in search of answers and relief.
Possible test to determine fibromyalgia
A breakthrough study conducted by American and Israeli researchers has revealed distinctive characteristics in the microbiota and bile acids of fibromyalgia patients, potentially leading to improved diagnosis and the development of new treatments.
Published in the journal Pain, the study highlights that fibromyalgia patients exhibit abnormally reduced levels of a secondary bile acid in their blood. This particular acid is a byproduct of bile acids metabolized by the intestinal microbiota in the liver.
The researchers conducted a comparison between 42 healthy women and 42 women with fibromyalgia. They observed variations in the metabolizing gut bacteria between the two groups, and the fibromyalgia patients showed significant alterations in the concentration of secondary bile acids in their blood. Interestingly, the intensity of the patients’ symptoms corresponded to the values of these bile acids.
As a result, the measurement of secondary bile acids in blood serum could potentially serve as a diagnostic test for fibromyalgia. The researchers currently estimate the diagnostic accuracy of this assay to be around 90%, and they anticipate the potential for further improvement in the future. This discovery could lead to more precise diagnoses and the development of targeted treatments for fibromyalgia patients.