April 28, 2007

My Heart Breaks

My heart breaks for my sister that is continues to be sick with a condition called Fibromyalgia. It’s been 2.5 years since my sister was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Her illness prevents her from working and she is on constant pain medication. She is very strong and is currently making the best of it, focusing on her love for her son and family. My friend’s husband has also been diagnosed with this condition and also is not capable of working now. Many people have never heard of Fibromyalgia. Here are some quick facts about this condition:

1. Symptoms can include muscle achiness, muscle spasms, nerve pain, chronic sleep disturbances, cognitive overload, “brain fog”, myofascial pain syndrome, chronic paresthesia, physical fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, genitourinary symptoms (such as those associated with the chronic bladder condition interstitial cystitis), dermatological disorders, headaches, myoclonic twitches, and symptomatic hypoglycemia.
2. Fibromyalgia is occasionally mistaken for lupus.
3. Possible causes include genetics, prolonged stress, dopamine abnormality, dysregulation of serotonin, trauma, major surgery, disease and sleep disturbance (not getting REM sleep). Some evidence shows that Lyme Disease is a common trigger. However, there is currently no known strong correlation between any specific type of trigger and the subsequent initiation of symptoms. My sister was very stressed before the onset of her fibromyalgia and started to get severe migraines. My friend’s husband believes it may have been a heat stroke that triggered his fibromyalgia.
3. It affects more females than males, with a ratio of 9:1.
4. Fibromyalgia is seen in 3% to 6% of the general population.
5. There is no universal cure for fibromyalgia. The treatments mainly consist of pain management, sleep management and psychological support.
6. As many as 30% of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are unable to maintain full-time employment.
7. Fibromyalgia is often referred to as an "invisible" illness or disability due to the fact that generally there are no outward indications of the illness or its resulting disabilities. The invisible nature of the illness, as well as its relative rarity and the lack of understanding about its pathology, often has psychosocial complications for those that have the syndrome. Individuals suffering from invisible illnesses in general often face disbelief or accusations of malingering or laziness from others that are unfamiliar with the syndrome.

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