Allergy season is no cakewalk for those with allergies but what if you throw fibromyalgia into the mix? The majority of fibromyalgia (FMS) sufferers have classic allergy symptoms, including runny nose, itchy eyes and congestion. They also have widespread, chronic pain in their muscles, tendons and ligaments, and many other symptoms.
Are allergies a risk factor for developing fibromyalgia? No one knows for sure but one theory is that allergies, combined with genetics and/or immune system problems, could make you more prone for developing FMS.
FMS affects more than six million Americans, the majority of whom are women, and causes more disability than rheumatoid arthritis. Other symptoms of FMS include:
•Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
•Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
•Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
•Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks ("fibro fog")
•Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
•Tension or migraine headaches
•Jaw and facial tenderness
•Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold
•Feeling anxious or depressed
•Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
•Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder)
•Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise
•A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet
Seasonal allergies seem to magnify the symptoms of FMS. On bad allergy days, your pain may be worse; your digestive system may be more off kilter; and you may have less energy. Why? My theory is allergies cause inflammation in your body which simply adds to the load your body is already bearing.
Many FMS sufferers get no relief at all from antihistamines or other allergy medications. In many cases, the medications cause all the side effects with none of the benefit.
Since FMS and allergies seem to go together, you need some kind of plan for dealing with the problem during allergy season. Here are some things I do as an FMS sufferer to reduce the affect of seasonal allergies on my other symptoms:
•Allergy medications do not work for me. Tip: You may have to try several medications before finding the right one that works for you as FMS sufferers tend to be sensitive to medication. Beware of drug interactions if you are taking other medications.
•If meds don’t work, try using a saline nasal spray and/or Neti pot or electronic nasal cleaning device, such as a SinuPulse. Consider herbal remedies as well.
•I eat a clean diet, sometimes opting for organic fruits and veggies if possible. Don’t venture into the unknown and try foods that may trigger symptoms. Many with FMS also have food sensitivities which are constantly shifting. This means new food sensitivities may appear at any time.
•Getting plenty of sleep is at the top of my list. Sleep deprivation is not good for anyone’s immune system.
•Stress can worsen FMS symptoms and allergies.
•Exercise boosts my endorphins. I try to do something every day.