Healthy Living

Fibromyalgia and How it Affects Women

Fibromyalgia and How it Affects Women

Fibromyalgia is a commonly misunderstood and misdiagnosed condition. The cause of the pain and other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia are unknown. To further complicate this complex set of symptoms is the fact that women account for 90% of fibromyalgia cases. Although no research has pinpointed the reason for this gender inequity, hormones, immunological differences, and genetics are possible culprits. What is known is that being female is a risk factor for developing fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is type of disease which does not get cured easily. Even after doing study and research on the disease Fibromyalgia there is no exact cause or treatment found for the disease. Mostly it is considered as the state of mind of a person requires bringing changes which could slowly help in preventing the disease completely. Mostly it is a disease which doesn’t have a cure. It is a disease that most researchers find no suitable treatment. The treatment is mainly focused on relieving the symptoms and the lifestyle.

According to the recent survey, more than 5 million people across the works are suffering from the disease of Fibromyalgia. Most of the people suffering from the disease are women.

Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia:

• Family History of fibromyalgia or rheumatic conditions
• Recurrent injuries to the same body part
• Experiencing a traumatic event, such as a motor vehicle accident
• History of anxiety and/or sleep disorders

These risk factors do not dictate that you will develop fibromyalgia, but indicate the likelihood or chance that you may develop the condition. If you are concerned about any of these risk factors discuss with your healthcare provider.

Why Does Fibromyalgia Predominantly Affect Women?

Fibromyalgia is considered as misunderstood form of rheumatoid disease. The disease is classified into many other forms of rheumatic disorders which are relating to the body pain such as arthritis.

The confusion is extended when it is found that the disease fibromyalgia predominantly affects women more than men. According to the medical reports about 90 percent of people suffering from fibromyalgia are female.

Why is this gender bias? The disease fibromyalgia mainly causes due to the hormones which work similar in men and women but the disease is found affecting women more than men. But then what will be the possible explanation for this gender bias?

Learn more about how this painful syndrome affects women, and what can be done about it.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms in Women

1) Pain - Widespread pain in the muscles and other soft tissues is the major symptom of fibromyalgia. This pain varies from person to person, but can often be described as burning, stabbing, shooting, throbbing, or aching. This pain, along with muscle stiffness, is often worse upon waking. This overreaching and seemingly unending pain can be extremely detrimental to the individual’s quality of life.

2) Fatigue - Often described as “fibro fog”, this symptom includes extreme lethargy and tiredness accompanied by decreased cognitive and memory function. Individuals with fibromyalgia may find themselves lacking focus and concentration. They may feel that they are in a haze of confusion. This “fog” is often attributed to extensive pain, lack of sleep, and increased stress levels. It must be noted that the lack of restorative sleep, often experienced by those with fibromyalgia, can result in complete exhaustion and decreased immune system response.

3) Painful menstruation - A recent study found that women with fibromyalgia are more likely to have painful periods and PMS symptoms. Many women with fibromyalgia report increased pain and sensitivity in the entire body right before or during their menstrual cycle. Some women also suffer from endometriosis - another chronic condition that can cause pelvic pain due to displaced uterine lining.

4) Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Women with fibromyalgia are also more likely to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The link between the two syndromes has yet to be understood by researchers; however, there is a suspicion that both syndromes are connected to brain cells that are overly sensitive to stimuli. IBS, a common gastrointestinal disorder, is characterized by bouts of abdominal pain, digestive discomfort, diarrhea and constipation. The overlapping symptom is the pain, which can be debilitating and disruptive to the individual’s life.

5) Sensitivity - The overstimulated brain cells that are believed to be the root of fibromyalgia often become noticeable when an individual shows extreme sensitivity to touch, sounds, or light. Even movement can cause a sensory overload for individuals with fibromyalgia, which results in decreased mobility and changes in lifestyle. Women may also notice temperature sensitivity - having to have a sweater or a fan handy at all times in case of a major change in comfort levels.

Some other symptoms in women

Though there is no relation between the specific hormones and fibromyalgia yet the medical researchers have found some connection. According to the study it is found the women with fibromyalgia are also likely to have frequent symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea which is relating to have painful periods. Women in the study group found to have extreme lower abdominal and lower back pain even before the one or two days before menstruation.

According to researchers it is also explained the prevalence of fibromyalgia in women. It is suggested that the women under diagnosed with fibromyalgia because of a lack of noticeable tender points. The men may not have the PMS symptoms but the mild pain that they have often gets ignored.

Risk factor is being a female

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, it is estimated that about five million adults are facing the disease fibromyalgia. The disease, according to the medical study can be developed to anybody at any age. But fibromyalgia develops in the people of middle age and that too primarily to the women. The main risk factor of the disease fibromyalgia is being a female.

The other risk factors for developing the disease fibromyalgia are :

  • Hereditary disease which could cause the problem
  • Recurring injuries in the body parts
  • It can cause due to anxiety or stress
  • Having suffered from physical injury in form of accident

Health issues regarding infections

If all the above conditions are true, then it is not necessarily true to get the disease fibromyalgia. But you should be aware of the facts and the reasons which can cause the disease.

The common symptoms of fibromyalgia

The disease affects both men and women equally but yet the symptoms of the disease may differ while experiencing the disease. Following given are some of the symptoms which can be seen among the patients:

  • Mild or severe headaches (either tension or migraine type)
  • Constant back aches
  • Felling pain and numbness in limbs
  • Getting morning stiffness
  • Sensitive to lights and noises
  • Pain either facial or jaw pain
  • Difficulty in remembering
  • Feeling sleeplessness

Treatments and other considerations

The disease fibromyalgia is not easy to diagnose due to the fact that the signs of the disease cannot be visible on an X-ray, blood test, or any other medical exam. The women experience painful menstrual cycles which can also be passed out as a normal hormonal issue.

According to the experts, the people who have the widespread pain for three months or longer can be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The treatment options are included as given below for the person having diagnosed with fibromyalgia:

  • Recommendations of pain relievers
  • Use of antidepressants to control hormones
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Use of oral contraceptives for primary dysmenorrhea and PMS
  • Undergoing physical therapy
  • Help with acupuncture or chiropractic treatments
  • Taking psychotherapy or sleep therapy

One should be clear about the fact that the disease fibromyalgia has no cure and the only way to deal with the problem is to minimize the pain and to improve quality of lifestyle.

Fibromyalgia is considered to be a chronic condition which can last longer during the lifetime for both men and women. But according to the medical reports the disease fibromyalgia is not a progressive disease, which means it does not damage the body. It is not similar to rheumatoid arthritis which damages the joints completely.  Also, the disease fibromyalgia isn’t at all fatal.

The millions of women having suffering from fibromyalgia have not necessarily reduced the pain. The researchers are working to find out about the disorder and the disease and the ways to prevent it. The rheumatologist are working with a plan to overcome the disorder which the women are facing and are making a suitable plan which could help the women who are suffering from the disease which has created lot many problems in the life.

Living with Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia can cause a lifetime of pain, however, it is not fatal. With proper medical care, good sleep, and adequate support the individual may be able to manage his or her symptoms. With a proper treatment plan, the level of life disturbances caused by the symptoms can be decreased if not eliminated.

Treatment options range from medications and pain relievers to physical therapy and mental health counseling. As fibromyalgia is a syndrome of many symptoms, individuals will have to determine their level and means of treatment based on their own unique set of maladies.

Dietary strategies prevents pain and to make the body stronger:

  • Have fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Always drink plenty of water.
  • Always eat green vegetables and plants than meat.
  • Control intake of sugar.
  • Do regular exercise which can help in strengthening your body.
  • Keep the weight or maintain your weight.

Food diary

You may find some of the foods which make your symptoms worse. It also makes a person feel weak.  It is always a good idea to maintain food diary and you can track the food which you have had earlier.