Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fibromyalgia/ Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome

What is Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome?

Fibromyalgia is a long-term problem that causes pain in the muscles and soft tissues of your body. You may lack energy or have trouble sleeping. These and other symptoms can be severe enough to affect your work and home life.

What causes fibromyalgia?
There are theories as to what may cause fibromyalgia, but at this point there is not enough evidence to support any single cause. Some experts think that fibromyalgia may be related to nerve cells that are too sensitive. Others think that chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) may be out of balance. Or it may be related to disturbances of the deep phase of sleep.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Most people with fibromyalgia have pain in their muscles, soft tissues, back, or neck, as well as sleep problems. Many people get so tired (fatigued) that they become weak. If pain and fatigue are severe enough, the person can become disabled. A more specific sign of fibromyalgia is the presence of up to 18 specific tender points on the body.

Although they are less common than pain, fatigue, and sleep problems, a variety of other symptoms may occur as well. These include headaches, morning stiffness, trouble concentrating, and irritable bowel syndrome. As with many conditions that cause chronic pain, it is common for people with fibromyalgia to have anxiety and depression. These can make symptoms worse.
Symptoms tend to come and go. Times when they are constant (flares) may be followed by times when they occur less often with less intensity, or are absent (remissions).

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose fibromyalgia based on two things. One is widespread pain, defined as pain on both sides of the body above and below the waist. The other is tenderness in at least 11 of 18 tender points when pressed.

How is fibromyalgia treated?
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but doctors can treat and control the symptoms. If you have fibromyalgia, you can help manage the symptoms by taking an active role in your treatment.
Treatment may be different for each person. It can include:

* Getting regular exercise to help with muscle aches and stiffness.
* Changing your routine, schedule, and surroundings to improve your sleep habits and reduce stress.
* Taking medicine to help you sleep better and to relieve pain.
* Getting counseling to help you to manage long-term (chronic) pain and find better ways to handle stress.

Some people with fibromyalgia also find complementary therapies helpful. These include acupuncture, massage, behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques.

Chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition that causes severe, unrelenting fatigue that interferes with a person's daily activities. The fatigue is not the result of exertion and it is not relieved by rest.

The cause of CFS is unknown.
Symptoms of CFS include fatigue, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly, memory problems, fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, and tender glands in the neck or armpits. Normal activity and light exertion cause tiredness and malaise that usually last longer than 24 hours.

Physical examinations and laboratory tests are done to rule out other causes of the symptoms. Because there is no test that can identify CFS, it can be diagnosed only by ruling out all other conditions.

This is some information I gathered from different sources, magazines, websites, and my own experience. Please share yours.