Updated 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Fibromyalgia: What is it and what can you do

More than 12 million Americans have fibromyalgia. Most of them are women between ages 25 and 60 since they are 10 times more likely to get this disease than men.

The lack of reproducible, objective tests for this disorder plays a role in some doctors questioning the disorder altogether. Although it’s more widely accepted in medical circles now than previously, some doctors and researchers don’t consider fibromyalgia a real condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can increase your risk of depression, which stems from a struggle in gaining acceptance for painful symptoms.

It is believed that a combination of factors may be responsible for fibromyalgia. This can include:

• Genetics: Fibromyalgia tends to run in families. Researchers believe that there may be a genetic component to the disease.

• Infections: Doctors have observed that some people developed symptoms after exposure to an illness or infection.

• Trauma: In some cases, people who have experienced trauma have developed fibromyalgia.

While there are medications that can help manage fibromyalgia, self-care in the form of some lifestyle changes and even some natural remedies can be effective in controlling the condition. Here are 5 of them:

1. Sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Being well-rested helps to combat the fatigue that is associated with the condition. In addition, good sleeping habits can help alleviate insomnia.

2. Exercise: Exercise may be more difficult, especially when first starting out, but it is important to stay consistent. As muscle strength builds over time, pain and discomfort should decrease. It is important for people with fibromyalgia to speak with a doctor before initiating an exercise program. Walking, swimming and water aerobics are generally good to start with. A physical therapist can sometimes be helpful in setting up an appropriate exercise program.

3. Resting: People with fibromyalgia tend to become fatigued more easily than others and it is important to rest when needed. Pushing too hard can lead to increased pain and fatigue. In addition, it is important to practice moderation. If a person with fibromyalgia pushes too hard with exercise or activity when they are feeling well, it may trigger more days when they are feeling poorly.

4. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: This goes beyond eating well and exercising. Reducing the use of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine products, or illegal drugs helps the body experience less physical stress and improves mood.

5. Reducing stress: Many people report that stress aggravates their fibromyalgia symptoms. Finding ways to manage that stress, such as yoga, exercise, journaling, or other hobbies, is essential for people with fibromyalgia.

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