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Fibromyalgia and Covid-19

Fibromyalgia and COVID-19

Fibro and Covid-19 share some common symptoms that can make it difficult to distinguish between the two conditions. Both can cause fatigue, body aches, and muscle pain. They can also both lead to headaches, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances. Additionally, if you have either condition you may experience mood changes, such as anxiety and depression. My experience has certainly been a rollercoaster.

It’s important to note that while there are similarities in symptoms, the underlying causes of these conditions are different. Covid-19 is a viral infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, while fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder characterised by heightened sensitivity to pain.

Because of the overlapping symptoms, it is important if you are experiencing these symptoms, to seek medical attention and get tested for Covid-19 if necessary. Proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial in managing these conditions effectively.

Recognising COVID Symptoms

Some of the most popular Covid-19 symptoms include:

  • 1. Fever
  • 2. Cough
  • 3. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • 4. Fatigue
  • 5. Muscle or body aches
  • 6. Headache
  • 7. Loss of taste or smell
  • 8. Sore throat
  • 9. Congestion or runny nose
  • 10. Nausea or vomiting
  • 11. Diarrhoea

It is important to note that some newer variants of Covid-19 may have slightly different symptoms or symptoms that are more pronounced. For example, the Delta variant has been associated with more prominent symptoms such as headache, runny nose, and sore throat as compared to the initial strain of the virus.

My Main Covid Symptoms

So, having listed the main symptoms, these are the ones that I can distinguish from my ongoing fluctuating Fibro symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat (briefly on the first two days)
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea (only briefly on one day, from memory)

Fibromyalgia Flares

Fibromyalgia flare-ups are episodes of increased pain, fatigue, and other symptoms that are characteristic of the condition. These flare-ups can be triggered by a variety of factors, making it important for those with fibromyalgia to recognise and manage these triggers.

Common triggers for fibromyalgia flare-ups include stress, overexertion, changes in the weather, lack of quality sleep, and certain foods or drinks. It’s important for individuals with fibromyalgia to pay attention to their bodies and identify any patterns or triggers that may exacerbate their symptoms.

Keeping a journal to track symptoms, activities, and food intake can help in identifying potential triggers. By noting any changes in symptoms and correlating them with activities or other factors, individuals can better understand their own unique triggers and take steps to minimise their impact.

Managing fibromyalgia flare-ups often involves a combination of self-care strategies, such as stress management, gentle exercise, quality sleep, and a balanced diet. Additionally, seeking support from healthcare providers and connecting with others who have fibromyalgia can provide valuable insights and support in managing flare-ups.

By recognising and addressing potential triggers, individuals with fibromyalgia can better manage their condition and improve their overall quality of life.

Relying on support

Relying on support from loved ones can make a huge difference when we’re struggling to find energy. It’s important to recognise and accept that we don’t have to do it all on our own. When we have the support of our family and friends, it can help alleviate some of the burden we may be feeling. Whether it’s help with household chores, childcare (for those with children), or simply lending a listening ear, having that support system can make a world of difference.

Trying to handle everything on our own when we are already feeling drained can lead to burnout and further exhaustion. It’s okay to ask for help and lean on our loved ones for support. When we are going through a tough time, having that network of people to rely on can provide the encouragement and assistance we need to get through it.

We shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed for needing help. It’s a natural part of being human, and reaching out to our loved ones can strengthen our relationships and provide us with the energy and resilience we need to overcome our challenges. So, when the option is there, don’t hesitate to rely on the support of those who care about you.

Sleep when you can

Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being, but it becomes even more important for those who struggle with insomnia. In the midst of dealing with the symptoms of insomnia, finding opportunities to rest and sleep whenever possible can make a significant difference in managing the condition.

I’ll be honest, there are nights when I have had an hour or two of sleep, woken up for whatever reason, then been wide awake for five or more hours. When this happens I sometimes find myself going back to sleep at about nine o’clock and waking again at lunch time. Not ideas but without this I would be likely to feel even worse.

Taking short naps during the day, finding time for relaxation, and prioritising rest whenever possible can help to lessen the impact of insomnia during night-time. It’s essential to listen to your body’s needs and give it the rest it requires, especially if you’re experiencing disrupted sleep patterns.

Getting sleep whenever you can can also help in improving cognitive function, managing stress levels, and regulating mood. It can contribute to better overall mental and physical health, which is vital in coping with insomnia and its effects.

By recognising the importance of sleep and making an effort to prioritise rest, individuals with insomnia can better manage their condition and improve their quality of life. While it may not completely solve the issue of night-time insomnia, getting sleep whenever possible can certainly help in mitigating its impact and providing much-needed relief.

How to Manage Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Here are some of the ways you can help to manage some of your Fibro symptoms:

  • 1. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress, which is known to exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms. Engaging in activities that bring joy, like reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature, can also promote relaxation.
  • 2. Staying active is essential for managing fibromyalgia symptoms. While pain levels and a lack of energy may limit some options, finding safe ways to exercise at home, such as gentle stretching, walking, or online workout classes, can help improve pain and fatigue. Something as simple as walking around the room can help you stop stiffening up.
  • 3. Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for managing fibromyalgia symptoms. Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can support overall health and help reduce inflammation. This is something I am going to try and do better in 2024. When in the worst of the virus, especially as it was in the festive period, I confess that comfort eating was a big thing.
  • 4. Establishing good sleep strategies, such as sticking to a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoiding caffeine and electronics before bed, can improve sleep quality, which is often disrupted in individuals with fibromyalgia. If this fails remember to sleep when you can.
  • 5. Seeking emotional support from friends, family, or a support group can provide comfort and understanding during these challenging times. Connecting with others who can empathise with the struggles of living with fibromyalgia can be incredibly beneficial. My life is so much richer thanks to having my husband Michael, he has really taken the time to understand the syndrome.

By incorporating relaxation, staying active, a healthy diet, sleep strategies, and emotional support into daily routines, individuals with fibromyalgia can better manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

Does Fibromyalgia Make You at a Higher Risk for Coronavirus?

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain and often accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. There are two types of fibromyalgia: primary, which occurs on its own, and secondary, where it is related to another illness or trauma. The potential impact of fibromyalgia on the risk of COVID-19 is not yet fully understood, but some evidence suggests that individuals with fibromyalgia may have a higher risk of developing severe symptoms if they contract the virus.

Understanding the difference between fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases is also important, as the two conditions are distinct. It is crucial for individuals with fibromyalgia to work closely with their healthcare providers to manage their condition and minimise the potential impact of COVID-19.

So, while the relationship between fibromyalgia and COVID-19 risk is not fully understood, it is important for individuals with fibromyalgia to take precautions, follow medical authority recommendations, and seek appropriate medical care.

Fibromyalgia and Covid image of a face mask and some hand sanitiser.

Social Distancing

Although here in the UK social distancing is no longer a thing really (well, it is tricky as the government and general society behave like the pandemic is a distant memory, however medical settings are still to a certain level taking precautions).

Fibromyalgia, has posed significant challenges for individuals living with the condition during the Covid-19 pandemic. While social distancing measures may have loosened in the UK, it is important to recognise that the risk of contracting and experiencing severe complications from Covid-19 still remains.

Long COVID-19

Long COVID-19, (or post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC)), can lead to a range of persistent symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, chest pain, and muscle aches. Some individuals may also experience symptoms similar to fibromyalgia and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), such as widespread pain, cognitive impairment, and extreme exhaustion. Long COVID-19 can also potentially lead to the development of post-viral fibromyalgia or ME/CFS cases, where the initial viral infection triggers a chronic condition.

There is an overlap in symptoms between long COVID-19, fibromyalgia, and ME/CFS, including fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and cognitive dysfunction. Individuals with long COVID-19 may also experience abnormal pain types, such as neuropathic pain and allodynia, which are often reported in fibromyalgia and ME/CFS. If left untreated or unmanaged, long-term effects of long COVID-19 can lead to a significant decline in overall quality of life, functional ability, and mental health. Prompt recognition and management of long COVID-19 symptoms are essential to mitigate potential long-term consequences.

Thoughts on the Covid Vaccine Now

Many people, including me, have experienced worse than expected side effects after receiving their original COVID-19 vaccine. I talk about my experience in the post Covid Vaccine Astounding Spoonie Experience. These symptoms can range from high fever, intense body aches, and extreme fatigue. This can be incredibly difficult for individuals who were not prepared for such severe reactions.

Unfortunately, having worse than described symptoms can lead to hesitancy in receiving the later booster vaccines. The fear of experiencing those intense side effects again can deter people from getting the booster shots, which are crucial in maintaining immunity against COVID-19. I got the initial booster but didn’t get one in Autumn/Winter 2023.

However, avoiding the booster vaccines due to bad experiences with the original vaccine may be a bad idea. The booster shots are important for ensuring long-term protection against the virus and its variants. They are designed to enhance the body’s immune response and extend the duration of protection. Skipping the booster shots can leave individuals vulnerable to breakthrough infections and diminish the overall effectiveness of the vaccination effort.

It is important for individuals to seek advice from healthcare professionals and weigh the risks and benefits of getting the booster vaccines, despite their initial unpleasant experiences. The long-term protection offered by the booster vaccines far outweighs the temporary discomfort of side effects, and ultimately contributes to collective efforts in ending the pandemic.

Having now (thankfully late to the party on 26th December 2023)  caught Covid I fully intend to get whatever booster is offered later this year. After all I get the standard Flu Shot and think the Covid-19 vaccines should now have had enough time to be better understood.

Which Came First Fibromyalgia or Covid-19?

For me it was Fibromyalgia, However, It’s a complex and challenging situation. On one hand, individuals, like me, who have been living with Fibromyalgia can contract Covid-19, leading to a potential worsening of symptoms and increased pain and fatigue. On the other hand, some individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 have reported developing symptoms of Fibromyalgia, such as widespread pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.

Fibromyalgia may occur post-COVID
Feb 14, 2023 Overall, the study findings indicate that the prevalence of FM was greater among COVID-19 convalescents than among the general public. In …

The relationship between Fibromyalgia and Covid-19 is not fully understood, but it’s clear that the two conditions can impact each other. Covid-19 can exacerbate the symptoms of Fibromyalgia and make it even more difficult for those living with the condition. Alternatively, Covid-19 may trigger the development of Fibromyalgia in individuals who did not have prior symptoms.

It’s important for healthcare providers to be aware of the potential impact of Covid-19 on individuals with Fibromyalgia and to provide appropriate support and treatment. Additionally, researchers are working to better understand the relationship between the two conditions and how they may influence each other. In the meantime, individuals with Fibromyalgia should take precautions to protect themselves from Covid-19 and seek medical attention if they experience any new or worsening symptoms.

Coming in Waves

I don’t know if I am just speaking for myself, for others with Fibromyalgia and Covid or for Covid19 in general. But my experience is that the symptoms are coming in waves. It is now 24 days since I caught the virus. During this time I have had days when I was pretty much bed-bound.

About 14 days after becoming symptomatic (2/3 days after the day I caught it) I began to have better parts of days if not whole days. However, I can still have a day or two when I get up for a few hours and then go back to a day in bed.

Speaking from my experience now, if this was to remain as it was I think I would likely need the official ME diagnosis adding to my Fibromyalgia one. There are times when my pain levels are bearable but I simply have zero spoons.

Conclusion

Remember, while fibromyalgia and COVID-19 may share some common symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention and get tested for COVID-19 if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing both conditions effectively. Let’s stay informed, take care of our health, and continue to support one another during these challenging times.

Have you had Fibro and Covid?

If you have been through both Covid and Fibro I would love to hear about your experience. How long did the Covid element last? Could you actively sense that standard symptoms like exhaustion were made worse by the Covid? Why not drop a comment below and share.

Until next time,
Gentle Hugs,
Susan

 


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