If you have fibromyalgia then knowing what to wear the next day is probably easy for you. The weather and fibromyalgia symptoms seem to have a special language all their own.
Inclement weather can cause flare-ups and what is important to know is how to handle the effect of the weather on your body, and how to learn to plan ahead to decrease your pain, discomfort and frustration with living with fibromyalgia.
For decades many people who suffered from fibromyalgia were told it was “all in their head” because the core symptom of the disease is chronic and widespread pain. Pain is very difficult to assess for physicians because there is no way to test pain, pain level are self-reported by the patient.
When enough of a trend of the same types of pain experience were being reported among mostly women in a certain age group, more monies were made available for research.
What they found is that fibromyalgia is very much a real disease that causes chronic pain and many other symptoms. While we don’t understand exactly how it works, we do know that once it begins it is a lifelong condition.
It is not a terminal illness and won’t shorten your lifespan, but it can affect your quality of life, mobility, focus and concentration. Fibromyalgia can also complicate other existing conditions such as osteoarthritis, IBS, and mood disorders.
Is it a “woman’s disease?”
Over 80% of all people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women, but men get it too. It is expected that more men may be diagnosed with the disorder as more becomes known about it and its symptoms.
One thing that we now know about all types of conditions is that the symptoms may be different from gender to gender, but the disease will be the same. It is most commonly diagnoses in women ages 40 to 60 years of age; although it can occur at younger or older ages too.
What do they think causes it?
While no one knows what causes fibromyalgia there are many things we now know may increase your risk for it. If you have a family history of the disease you may have an increased risk.
Studies have also found that having a traumatic brain injury, inflammatory disease, or high stress lifestyle may also contribute. Doctors are just starting to understand how hormones affect fibromyalgia, which may help to explain why the weather and fibromyalgia are so connected.
Why would the weather increase symptoms?
You would expect the weather and fibromyalgia to be a bad combination just in terms of barometric pressure and how it can complicate inflammation. The change in ambient air temperature can be easily detected by those with fibromyalgia, bursitis and osteoarthritis.
What scientists are now also looking at is how the day may affect your mood. We all know that when it is cloudy or the day is short in the winter that it can deepen a depression. It has this effect because it changes our brain chemicals as the brain seeks to manage serotonin and dopamine effectively.
Since fibromyalgia has been linked to flaring with changing hormone levels of progesterone and estrogen – and they regulate serotonin and dopamine – then it makes sense that someone with fibromyalgia may be hypersensitive to any type of weather change too.
What can I do to better handle the pain?
Chronic pain is very difficult to live with, especially pain that can flare with the weather. You should explore different methods of pain management, but you should also look into increasing your awareness of the weather. Keep a journal and pay attention to how your body feels during the day.
Check the weather services and match the pain to the time of day to see what the barometric pressure was doing. This will help you to understand how your body responds to weather changes better, and will start to show you how to predict how you feel so you can plan your days better. The less disruptive your flare-up is to your life, the easier it will be to follow through with the other pain management techniques.
The sort-of good news
There is a silver lining to the dark cloud of weather and fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that people are most affected by the weather in the first ten years of the onset of fibromyalgia. After ten years, the affect the weather will have on you may lessen. For some people the period of time may be longer or shorter. It is good to know that it won’t get worse. This can make it easier to deal with the pain and discomfort in the here and now too.
Exploring different treatments and options
Talk to your doctor about all of the different treatments and options that are available for you. Make sure you explore non-medical interventions too. Many people have had greater success by combining Western and alternative treatments to help control their symptoms. Explore, but never give up, and become willing to make important lifestyle changes.
Making important lifestyle changes
Lifestyle changes are the most recognized way of treating fibromyalgia. If you can reduce your symptoms and control pain associated with lifestyle habits by changing them, handling weather and fibromyalgia together can become easier. The goal is to increase the quality of your life through addressing all of the elements that can contribute to discomfort and pain. Learning to live with chronic pain takes effort, but it is an effort that is well worth it.
Living with chronic pain
Living with chronic pain is never easy. The way that the weather and fibromyalgia work together can make it seem like you have no control over how you feel – but you do have control over how you handle what you are feeling. Chronic pain is complicated by anticipatory pain.
This means that you can start feeling more pain sooner and stop doing the things that you can be doing to make yourself feel better before you have to. Just remember that weather and fibromyalgia does get better with time and it will affect you less and less.