What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary from person to person. The main symptoms include:
- All-over general aches – kind of like flu aches that don’t go away
- Insomnia – this can happen every day or a couple times a month. This varies from person to person
- Exhaustion – There is NO amount of caffeine in the world to make this better.
- Concentration or memory problems aka fibro fog – This comes and goes. I have good days and bad ones. This is what I lovingly call my “sometimers brain”. Sometimes I remember, sometimes I forget. There isn’t much that can be done to help this but I have found making lists of things to do, helps. I still have to remember where the list is and if it’s a shopping list, I need to remember to take it with me. That is difficult some days. Caffeine helps me with this a little most days.
- Headaches – Tylenol and other headache medicines help a little. Usually it just eases the pain, but the headache is still there.
- IBS/IBSD/IBD – You either have constipation or diarrhea. Neither is fun. I have tips on how to deal with this a little better.
- Problems peeing – You either pee a lot or not at all.
- Stronger menstrual cramps – Honey, you are on your own with this one. There is not much that helps with this. I have a couple tips for this as well.
- Anxiety/depression – go to the doctor, get a preliminary diagnosis and a referral from your family doctor, then go see a counselor and psychiatrist. Get help. People who care will support you!
How To Get Diagnosed?
I am not a doctor, but I have been living and dealing with fibromyalgia for a while now. I can tell you what I have been doing to control my symptoms but I recommend you get a formal diagnosis from your doctor and rheumatologist. My doctor gave me many blood tests, ultrasounds, CT scans and physicals before getting diagnosed almost 2 years ago. Don’t give up.
When I was initially diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I went through so many emotions. I was angry and wondered “why me”. I was also relieved to have a diagnosis and know that I’m not crazy. Then I was sad and overwhelmed because I didn’t know what to do to deal with it. I felt lost.
That’s when I started asking questions and looking for answers from doctors, dietitians and getting more information online. My doctor gave me a referral to go to the rheumatologist. My rheumatologist put me on Gabapentin. It was okay for a bit. The Gabapentin helped me get into a better routine. After a while, I started feeling more sick. The medicine wasn’t helping me. I talked to my rheumatologist and we figured out a plan for me to live with my fibromyalgia, without medicine. He told me I can control my fibromyalgia with a strict diet and some mild exercise. The exercise part has been difficult this summer because it’s been so hot, humid and rainy here. When I had my “good” days, I made sure to get outside and move around more.
I also reached out to some dietician and nutritionist friends. They helped me to learn more about what I put into my body affects the way my body feels, acts and responds to my fibromyalgia. After lots of research, I found that certain food combinations and foods that contain certain naturally occurring elements, can make me feel better or worse depending on the foods.
Right now, I am overweight. I know this is not good, but I am working on this too. Taking care of the pain that I deal with everyday was more important than my weight. I am finally to a point where my pain is pretty well managed, so I plan on adding more stretching and low impact exercises to my routine. Yoga is a good exercise for both and have shown to decrease pain levels in many people with issues like fibromyalgia and arthritis. While both of these diseases are different, they both have joint inflammation in common. Arthritis usually causes joint damage, where fibromyalgia usually just causes inflammation and pain in joints.
What To Do Next?
My best advice is to get advice from those who are smarter than you are. Talk to your doctor, nutritionist and rheumatologist. They will guide you on what you should do.
I am on a gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and low FODMAP diet. I’m pretty sure most of you have heard of dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free diets, but have you ever heard of a low FODMAP diet? If you are like me, then probably not. FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyols. FODMAPs are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates or sugars. They are found naturally in many foods and food additives. I know this all sounds daunting, but I promise it is easier than it sounds. I have an app on my phone which helps me figure out if something is a food I shouldn’t eat.
As I go along on my website and blog, I will share tips, tricks and recipes to help you feel like your best self. I will share what I have learned about being gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and low FODMAP. Yes. I know that is a lot of stuff to manage, but it helps me feel kind of “normal” most days. What I learned (in a nutshell) is if you take most inflammatory foods out of your diet, like most known allergens, then you should feel better. Yes it takes time, patience and trial and error. My primary doctor runs routine blood tests to make sure that all of my levels are where they should be.