Can Fibromyalgia Kill You? : Symptoms, Causes, And Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia, formerly known as fibrositis, is a chronic health condition characterized by severe pain in the muscles and tenderness throughout the body. The pain may come and go. About 2% of the American population suffers from fibromyalgia.

The disease is not progressive like cancer and AIDS. Cancer, if untreated, the tumor will spread, shutting down vital body organs. AIDS, if not treated, will open the window for opportunistic infections. 

On the other hand, fibromyalgia won’t worsen over time. The pain may worsen with time but won’t result in your organs shutting down.

In some settings, fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition, although it does not cause damage to muscles and joints.

A cure for this condition does not exist, but they are a variety of treatment strategies and therapies that may help relieve the pain. 

It can be a frightening experience when diagnosed with a disease that scientists know very little about. And the question often asked by diagnosed patients is,

Can fibromyalgia kill you?

While fibromyalgia is a long-term disorder, it is not necessarily a deadly disease and won’t kill you by itself. Many deaths associated with fibromyalgia are suicide; 50% of patients commit or attempt suicide. The unbearable pain, difficulty in working, strains in the relationship, and lack of real cure can make one hopeless, leading to suicide.   

So, What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia?

Before we look into the signs and symptoms, we first need to understand what causes the condition. Unfortunately, medical experts don’t have a firm grip on what causes fibromyalgia. 

Some speculate that it’s genetic and runs in families, but there is no clear evidence to support this claim. 

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is tricky because most of the signs and symptoms are similar to those of other diseases. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the disease if you are experiencing a couple of symptoms discussed below. Seek medical guidance from a licensed practitioner.  

Fatigue, Intense muscle, and joint pain are the main characters of fibromyalgia. Other signs that are associated with the disease include;

  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Digestive complications (diarrhea or constipation)
  • Dry eyes or mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Poor concentration
  • Poo sleep
  • Tingling sensation and numbness in feet and hands.

To prevent the symptoms of Fibromyalgia from worsening, keep the following in mind;

  • Avoid poor diet/ dietary changes
  • Check on your hormone fluctuation
  • Get enough sleep
  • Reduce stress- both emotional and physical stress
  • Weather and temperature changes may trigger the symptoms 

Diagnosis And Treatment 

Traditionally, 18 specific points in a body were of concern when diagnosing the disease in question. The points were pressed firmly, and the painful points marked. 

Today, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia has improved, thanks to the American College of Rheumatology studies. 

According to the study, widespread pain in the body for three months is enough to diagnosis the condition.

 Five areas of the body are used to diagnosis the condition. Pain in at least four of these areas may suggest that you have the disorder.

  • Right lower region – leg, hip, and buttock.
  • Right upper region – jaw, arm, and shoulder.
  • Axial region – abdomen, back, neck, and chest.
  • Left lower region – leg, hip, and buttock.
  • Left upper region – jaw, arm, and shoulder.

A doctor may conduct some blood tests to rule out other diseases. The tests may include; CBC, thyroid function tests, celiac serology, and erythrocyte sedimentation.

Since there is no cure for fibromyalgia, the treatment given aims at reducing the severity of the pain and associated symptoms, treatment may include a self-care routine and medication. And with many symptoms, no one medication is enough to suppress the symptoms. 

Consequently, various treatment plans can suppress the symptoms cumulatively. Common medications prescribed to patients with fibromyalgia include;

Antidepressants –

Are given to help with pain and fatigue. Examples of antidepressants that can be given include Duloxetine and Milnacipran. 

Muscles relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine work on your muscle and allow one to sleep easily. Caution should be observed when using antidepressants. The side effects of the antidepressant could potentially make you suicidal. 

Pain killers –

When under severe pressure, a doctor can prescribe over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and acetaminophen. Some medications that can lead to dependency and other side effects are not advised. A good example is the Opioid.

Anti-seizure drugs –

Originally designed to treat people with epilepsy. Work by minimizing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain causing seizures. 

The FDA-approved medication, Pregabalin (Lyrica), works well in suppressing fibromyalgia symptoms. 

Other than medication, different therapies can help reduce fibromyalgia’s symptoms and effects on your body. Try out the following therapy to improve the quality of your life.

Counseling

Feeling that you will never get out of pain can make you lose it a little. It messes up with your head, and it’s because of this reason that people who have fibromyalgia should talk to counselors. They will boost morale, hope and teach the victims strategies of dealing with the condition.  

Occupational therapy –

This type of therapy is important to people suffering from sensory, physical, or cognitive problems. It helps patients improve and learn skills needed for daily living and working.

Physical therapy

Physical therapists can help one manage pain in addition to evaluating and recording your progress. Some exercises improve stamina, flexibility, and stamina; you can learn all these in a physical therapy session.

Living With Fibromyalgia

Pain, memory fog, and fatigue are common with every individual suffering from fibromyalgia. But it doesn’t mean that you have to put your life on a halt. You can learn ways and strategies of living with the condition.

You will need to make adjustments to your parenting responsibilities and work setting. Proper management of the condition gives you a sense of control and boosts your esteem. Try out the below tips; 

  • Stay on your meds
  • Be active and do some exercise 
  • Get some sleep
  • Take nutrient-rich diets, a great source of energy 
  • Avoid things that will stress you.

A Word Of Hope For Fibromyalgia Patients!

‘Never lose hope storms make people stronger and never last forever.’ You may feel like you have hit rock bottom that you’ve had it all but never give up. 

We are in this all together. There are more than 4 million USA citizens who have fibromyalgia.  

You can join support groups or seminars to find people with conditions like yours. By talking to each other, you can unburden yourself. 

Also, you can find a family member, who you can open up your struggles to, remember a problem shared is a problem half solved. And for what’s worth, the condition is manageable under proper medication and self-care strategies.

FAQ On Fibromyalgia Syndrome

1. Can fibromyalgia be cured?

Fibromyalgia has no cure, but the symptoms can be controlled to enable the victims to leave a healthy and happy life undertaking their day-to-day activates in a normal way.

2. What causes fibromyalgia?

The exact cause of fibromyalgia syndrome is not known. Some scientists speculate that it could be related to genetics or environmental factors, although there is no scientific evidence to support the claims.

3. What foods trigger fibromyalgia pain?

Foods containing a large amount of sugar, salt, and fats can flare –up the pain. Processed foods, gluten, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and dairy products are some of the food substances that can trigger fibromyalgia pain. 

4. Has anyone died of fibromyalgia?

According to the data provided by CDC, only 23 people died because of fibromyalgia from 1979 to 1998. On its own, the condition is not deadly. Many deaths associated with the condition are due to suicide.

5. What are the preventive measures of fibromyalgia?

Unfortunately, there are no preventive measures for this condition because experts are yet to determine what causes it. But you can always have enough sleep, minimize stress, eat a nutritious diet, and maintain a healthy weight to be on the safer side.

6. When should I call my doctor?

Contact your doctor when you start having suicidal thoughts, depression, memory problems, or migraines.

Conclusion

Very little is still known about fibromyalgia, and more attention needs to be drawn to the matter so that more effective solutions can be found, enabling people with the disorder to live a quality life. 

Since it’s just a small percentage of the USA suffering from this condition, the topic is not given much attention, and this is not the best way to go. 

We are in this together. To those diagnosed with fibromyalgia, don’t lose hope; with proper treatment and therapy, you can suppress the symptoms and improve the quality of your life. Stay safe and live a happy life!

Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett has an M.A in health and fitness, is an experienced trainer, and enjoys teaching children about healthy eating habits. She loves to cook nutritious meals for her family.

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