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Fibromyalgia Awareness 12th May

Updated: May 13, 2020

In 2016 I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after two years of investigations and many years prior to that with, as I’m now aware, various associated health problems.

Some health professionals still don’t believe that Fibromyalgia is a real illness, but it is now recognised by the Dept of Health, and information can be found at it wasn’t on there when I began researching in 2014.

It's a common illness - 1 in 20 people suffer with it and 7 times more women are affected than men.

In 2018, you may have heard that Lady Gaga had to cancel her tour because of Fibro. Morgan Freeman and Sinead O’Connor are other celebrities that you may have heard of who are also sufferers.

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it's thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain and changes in the way the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) processes pain messages carried around the body. Substance P is a pain neurotransmitter that has been found by repeat studies to be elevated threefold in the spinal fluid of fibromyalgia patients.

It's also suggested that some people are more likely to develop fibromyalgia because of genes inherited from their parents. This is new to me; I’d not heard this before.

In many cases, the condition appears to be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event, such as

o an injury or infection

o giving birth

o having an operation

o the breakdown of a relationship

o the death of a loved one.

Diagnosis is a process of elimination because a lot of the symptoms can be similar to other conditions and vary from person to person. There are no specific blood tests, x-rays, or scans to confirm diagnosis, usually any tests come back normal. A history of pain for more than three months and tenderness at specific points on the body, even when pressed very gently, is what is commonly use to diagnose.

Symptoms include chronic pain all over the body, fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, headaches, IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome), Fibro fog – What’s that? It’s struggling to find the right word, forgetting what you’re saying in the middle of a conversation, muddling up words, poor concentration and memory problems. Other symptoms are allergies, heightened sensitivity to weather, light, noise and the general environment. These symptoms can change from day to day and even hour to hour. There are no outward signs, so people with Fibromyalgia look fine! Which can make it hard for others to understand what you’re going through.

Fibromyalgia is usually treated by taking painkillers (over the counter medication or stronger drugs prescribed by the Dr.) and medication to improve sleep. As with all medications, there are side effects.

Managing Fibro includes “pacing” yourself, which is a balancing act between being active and resting. Light exercise keeps the body mobile which along with heat, in the form of a hot water bottle, warm baths or showers helps to reduce stiffness. Stress can cause a Fibro flare, which means the symptoms get worse, so reducing stress and learning relaxation techniques can be beneficial.

Everyone with Fibromyalgia has a different set of symptoms and a different way of managing them. Fibromyalgia isn’t “one size fits all” and some people with mild to moderate symptoms are able to lead a relatively normal life, with a few adjustments but others have severe symptoms and their life can be drastically changed.

I manage Fibromyalgia mostly with a good diet, (but I do like chocolate and alcohol), eating organically where I can, gentle exercise, Reiki and using my hot tub. I trained as an Aromatherapist when I was diagnosed because I didn’t want to be taking medications that would bring unpleasant side effects. So, I use essential oils daily, added to my shower gel, shampoo, etc. and when I’m giving an aromatherapy massage, I inhale and absorb the essential oils and get the benefit too. I also wear magnetic jewellery and use the magnetic wellness items which I believe has improved my energy levels and reduced the discomfort.

As mentioned before, symptoms change from day to day or even hour by hour so listening to your body and not ignoring the signs can help you have a better day.

Friends, family and work colleagues can find Fibromyalgia really challenging so it’s important to raise awareness of this invisible condition so they have a better understanding of how tough getting through the day can be.

If you want to contact me to find out more, please get in touch via my website. I feel fully equipped to help and if I can’t, I should be able to point you in the right direction.

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