Fibromyalgia can affect multiple areas of the body, causing several different types of symptoms. Learning about these symptoms can help patients to better understand and manage them.
Fibromyalgia is not uncommon, affecting about 0.5 percent of men and 3.4 percent of women according to UW Medicine Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. This condition can cause a patient to experience more than 60 different symptoms. So, what are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Many patients with this condition will have a family member with it. Patients tend to sweat and have delayed reactions to stressful events or physical exertion. Headaches and migraines may occur. Vision may worsen rapidly and other vision changes are possible. Patients may experience chocolate and carbohydrate cravings and experience unexplained weight loss or gain.
Allergy and Sinus
Fibromyalgia patients may experience a variety of symptoms related to sinus and allergies. These may include allergies, runny nose, shortness of breath, ringing in the ears, post nasal drip, mold and yeast sensitivity, earaches and itchy ears and thick secretions.
Tissue and Muscle
Pain is a primary symptom. It can be mild to severe and anywhere in the body. Muscle twitches, morning stiffness and diffuse swelling are also possible. Fibrocystic breasts have also been seen in patients with this condition.
Patients tend to be fatigued often. Sleep is usually unrefreshing and the sleep pattern broken. Patients also tend to be light sleepers. Patients experience falling sensations, also known as sleep starts. Teeth grinding and twitchy muscles at night may also occur.
Nausea, and bloating and abdominal cramps may occur with fibromyalgia. Some patients also experience irritable bowel syndrome.
Women may experience menstrual problems and PMS. Men may experience impotence. Both men and women may experience a loss of libido.
Sensory symptoms may include sensitivity to odors, sensitivity to light, difficulty driving at night, sensitivity to noise, sensory overload and sensitivity to temperature, pressure changes and humidity.
Patients may experience depression, free-floating anxiety, mood swings, panic attacks, crying easily and unaccountable irritability.
Neurological and Cognitive
Patients may have speaking issues or language impairments. Burning or tingling in the upper limbs is possible. Some people may not be able to distinguish between certain shades of colors. Patients may space out before their brain “kicks in", and may not be able to recognize familiar surroundings. Other symptoms may include directional disorientation, short-term memory impairment, trouble concentrating, poor coordination and balance and confusion.
Hair, Nail and Skin
Patients may have pronounced nail ridges, mottled skin, temporary hair loss, curved under nails and scaring or bruising easily. Tissue overgrowth, such as adhesions and ingrown hairs are also possible.
Patients may experience a fluttery, irregular and rapid heartbeat. Mitral valve prolapse is also commonly seen. Some patients experience pain that is very similar to that of a heart attack. This pain is usually from costochondritis.
There are other symptoms that do not fit into the above categories, but patients with fibromyalgia may experience them. These include nose bleeds, hemorrhoids, pelvic pain and urinary frequency.
UW Medicine Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. (2009). Fibromyalgia. Retrieved on May 17, 2011 from UW Medicine Orthopedics and Sports Medicine: http://www.orthop.washington.edu/PatientCare/OurServices/Arthritis/Articles/Fibromyalgia.aspx
Mayo Clinic. (2011). Fibromyalgia Definition. Retrieved on May 17, 2011 from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fibromyalgia/DS00079
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