Sensitivity to Lights and Sounds
Sensory overload from light and sounds is very common for people with fibromyalgia. This will often lead to increased pain, fatigue, brain fog, and more.
According to fibromyalgia researcher and neurology professor, Benjamin Natelson, MD, the uncomfortable and painful sensations of fibromyalgia may be part of our brain’s unusual way of processing pain.
Sensory overload is frequently linked to generalized hypervigilance, which is also common in people with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This means that we are on high alert, even when we don’t need to be. The cause of this is unknown but may have to do with an issue in our nervous system.
Sensitivity to Chemicals
Another common affliction for those with fibromyalgia is a sensitivity to many chemicals. This is caused by multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome (MCS).
MCS causes reactions to multiple chemical substances. And even though the reaction may be similar to that of an allergy, it does differ from an allergic reaction. One difference being, MCS does not cause any permanent damage in the way that an allergy possibly can.
While it is true MCS is not likely to cause any permanent harm, like many fibromyalgia symptoms, it can severely limit your ability to function.
Some of the possible symptoms of MCS include:
- Burning, stinging eyes.
- Wheezing, breathlessness.
- Extreme fatigue.
- A headache.
- Poor memory and concentration.
- A runny nose.
- Sore or burning throat.
- A cough.
- An earache, ringing in the ears.
- Skin rashes and/or itching.
- Sensitivity to light and noise.
- Sleeping problems.
- Digestive upset.
- Muscle and joint pain.
How to Cope with Fibromyalgia Symptoms
For the time being, there is no known cure for fibromyalgia. There are however many treatment methods that can help you to reduce fibromyalgia symptoms and make living with this chronic illness more bearable.
Some medications have been beneficial for many with fibro. Your doctor may prescribe you medicine that helps with pain and sleep.
A number of medicines that were originally formulated for other illnesses, such as depression, and seizures have shown to help some with fibromyalgia pain. Some doctors may prescribe muscle relaxers to help with pain, stiff muscles, and improve quality of sleep.
Vitamins and Supplements
There are also several vitamins and natural supplements that have helped many with reducing fibromyalgia symptoms.
Vitamin D3, magnesium, 5-Htp, SAMe, and potassium are a few that can potentially help relieve some of the pain, fatigue, and/or mood-related symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Before taking anything new, natural or otherwise, it is best to talk to your doctor and do research to make sure that what you want to take will not interfere with anything else you are currently taking.
It is also important to note that each individual with fibromyalgia reacts differently to medication and natural treatments. What helps one person may not help you, and vice versa. What gives one-person bad side effects may not be an issue for you. We all have to find what works best for us.
The principal way to cope with fibromyalgia is with lifestyle changes. Trying to pretend that everything is the same as it has always been, or trying to keep up with our able-bodied counterparts is just going to lead to more problems for us in the long run.
- Pace yourself because balance is critical. Learn your personal limits and try to stay within them. Even on good days, schedule regular periods of rest throughout the day. On your bad days, take things slow. But beware, a complete lack of activity will make pain worse in the long run.
- As difficult as it is to exercise when you have chronic pain and fatigue, exercising on a regular basis will help improve your symptoms and quality of life. Gentle stretches, yoga, Pilates, or tai chi have been helpful for some with fibromyalgia. Strength training has also been proven to be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia, make sure you start slowly and take necessary precautions.
- Improve your sleep habits. Sleep is a vital component to feeling your best with fibromyalgia. To get the best quality of sleep possible, you must practice good sleep habits. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Use aromatherapy, such as lavender essential oils, to help your mind and body to relax and get a better night’s sleep. And reduce the amount of caffeine that you intake each day.
- Reduce your stress. Easier said than done? I know! But finding ways to better cope with stress will help your fibromyalgia symptoms. Take time each day to relax, even if it is as little as five minutes. Say no when you need to, without feeling guilty.
- Do deep-breathing exercises or practice mindfulness. Take time to do things that you enjoy on a regular basis. Spend time in nature. Pray. Listen to calming music or nature sounds. Do something creative. Journal your thoughts and feelings. Have a gratitude journal.
- Heat and/or cold therapy can be beneficial for many with fibromyalgia. Things such as hot water bottles, heating pads, and heated blankets have been helpful for many to ease their pain. I refer to my heating pad as my best friend, as in many instances, it can help relieve pain when nothing else can. Others use ice packs to help numb some of their pain, or they rotate between heat and cold.
- Acupuncture has been found to help many with pain, anxiety, and other symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Massage therapy can help to relax the muscles, improve joint mobility, and lessen the pain for some with fibromyalgia. Massage can also be beneficial for relieving stress and anxiety.
- Chiropractry may help with fibromyalgia pain and stiffness by making adjustments to your spine and skeletal structure.
The Bottom Line
Finding a fibromyalgia treatment that will help you most may take some time and effort. But it is indeed worthwhile to find what will bring you relief from these fibromyalgia symptoms we discussed and all other symptoms that you live with.
It is important for you to remember that you must find the right combination of things that will help you the most. Only you know what you need and what works the best for you.
Finding relief is possible, and you must remember that you are not alone in your journey to find it!