Many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia are vague. If you’ve been experiencing widespread pain and extreme fatigue, this condition might be something family members or even your doctor has suggested as a possibility.
You’ve likely already researched what is fibromyalgia and how serious is fibromyalgia. The next thing you’re probably wondering is who can get fibromyalgia. Learning about what can trigger fibromyalgia will help you determine how likely it is that this condition is the cause for your symptoms.
Causes and Risk Factors of Fibromyalgia
Where does fibromyalgia come from? It’s hard to say for certain. Doctors don’t know why some people get this condition while others with risk factors don’t. But there are some known triggers.
If you meet every risk factor on this list, that doesn’t mean you’ll develop this ailment -- it just means your risk is higher. Risk factors include:
- Having other conditions or illnesses: Certain viral illnesses, like the Epstein-Barr virus and adenoviruses that give way to simple colds, are believed to be linked to fibromyalgia. So are other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Gender: Sorry, ladies. This condition is gender-biased. Just by being a woman, you are more likely to have fibromyalgia. It can still strike men and even children, but the majority of cases are in women.
- Heredity: If your relatives had fibromyalgia, or some sort of fatigue and pain issues before this condition was commonly diagnosed, you are at higher risk.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): When people go through a crisis that causes PTSD, like being a soldier in the war or surviving a car crash, their risk increases because of the psychological stress they’ve experienced.
- Physical or emotional abuse: Being a victim of abuse can lead to an increased risk for this condition, even years after the abuse occurred.
- Anxiety: Experts say there appears to be a link between disorders such as anxiety and depression and those who suffer from fibromyalgia.
- Inactivity: For some reason, being active seems to have a protective effect when it comes to this condition.
If you have a higher risk of this condition, you’ll also want to know what are the symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome and how is fibromyalgia diagnosed and treated. Educating yourself about this issue can help you better take care of yourself so you minimize the impact of this ailment on your life.
Lifestyle and Fibromyalgia
When you are at a higher risk of fibromyalgia or you have been diagnosed, it’s smart to pay special attention to your lifestyle. That may play a part in whether you develop fibromyalgia, how severe the flare-ups are, and how well you cope with chronic pain and other symptoms.
Some lifestyle choices you can make to help yourself remain at optimal health include:
- Avoiding stress: Can stress trigger fibromyalgia? Chronic stress can cause fibro-flares that you may have otherwise avoided if you had better managed your stress level. Plus, stress isn’t good for your overall health anyway. So it’s something you should work hard to avoid. Some stress is inevitable, but you should balance it as much as possible. Try using relaxation methods such as meditation and yoga. When you feel wound up, a warm bath may help as well.
- Staying active: The importance of exercise can’t be stressed enough when you have fibromyalgia. You may not feel like exercising at all, but you should aim to incorporate at least a few minutes of exercise into your daily routine most days.
- Eating healthy: When you feel lousy, you might feel like eating nothing but comfort food and junk. But that won’t do your body any good. You should focus on nutritional foods like lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You should stay away from sugar and caffeine as much as possible. It might give you immediate energy, but you’ll feel worse later when that sugar or caffeine wears off and your body crashes from that temporary high.
Can Pregnancy Trigger Fibromyalgia?
If you don’t have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, there is no medical evidence to suggest becoming pregnant increases your risk. But, if you already have this condition, pregnancy may trigger flare-ups, or may make your existing conditions seem worse at times.
Fatigue, for instance, may seem worse when you’re pregnant. With pregnancy, many women experience an overwhelming sense of tiredness, particularly in the first and third trimesters. Since fibromyalgia also causes fatigue, those two conditions together can have you feeling exhausted.
Pregnant women with fibromyalgia should take extra precautions to get as much quality rest as possible since sleep problems will likely occur. They not only have to rest for themselves, but also for their growing baby too.
Coping with Fibromyalgia
While this condition can be challenging to handle and it can have a long term negative impact on your quality of life, you can still have a fulfilling, active life. That is best done by finding solid coping mechanisms that help you protect your health.
One of the most important aspects under your control is getting enough sleep. If you aren’t sleeping well, your well-being is going to suffer in multiple ways. You won’t have enough energy to power through your day. Your mood and anxiety levels may be impacted. And, your relationships and career can also suffer.
Weighted blankets are one effective strategy for getting more rest. These blankets are heavier than normal blankets, and help people with various conditions get more rest. They have benefited those with autism, anxiety, and fibromyalgia, to name a few.
If you decide to try a weighted blanket, look for one that weighs approximately 10 percent of your body weight. Less than that isn’t enough, and more than that can feel too heavy and uncomfortable.
You should also strive to exercise almost every day, even if it is just a few minutes at a time. Some people with fibromyalgia who don’t have the energy to tackle a longer exercise session find that breaking activity up into smaller segments helps them.
While it may take a lot of convincing yourself to put in the effort to exercise, you should at least make the commitment to try it for a month and see how much it helps. It is one of the single most effective ways to manage your condition.
Anyone Can Get This Condition
Unfortunately, we can’t control everything that happens to us. Sometimes, all we can control is our reaction to it. And while this diagnosis may be a bitter pill to swallow, you still have a lot of influence on how much impact this disease will have on your life.
Practising self-care and using medications your doctor suggests may help you feel like your old self again at times. And it might help you get through the worst of your flare-ups.