Fibromyalgia - Risk Factors

If you suspect that you have fibromyalgia, it may be helpful to evaluate the risk factors before seeing your doctor. Certainly, it's possible to have this condition even if you don't fit into the known risk factors. It is, however, more likely to have fibromyalgia if you do fit into these risk factors.

The Gender Factor

Fibromyalgia occurs more in women than it does in men. Between 80-90% of people diagnosed with it are women. This may be because of hormonal differences, or it may be because men tend to seek treatment less than do women. Women are seven times more likely to have fibromyalgia and that number corresponds to the information that men tend to have seven times the level of serotonin in their bodies than women. Serotonin is a hormone that figures into the equation when dealing with fibromyalgia.

What's Your Age?

Fibromyalgia is most commonly diagnosed in people between 20 and 55, although it can occur at any time. The most common diagnoses of fibromyalgia are of women in their childbearing years. Some studies have shown that it peaks around age 35 which is consistent with the idea that women of childbearing age are most frequently affected. Other studies note that it is most common in middle aged women, those who are menopausal. One trail indicated incidence of fibromyalgia increased with age, with a prevalence of over seven percent in people in their 60s and 70s.

A variant of fibromyalgia shows up in adolescents. It is called Juvenile Primary Fibromyalgia and becomes evident after the age of 13, peaking at 14. Although it is still relatively uncommon, studies are showing higher incidence of the illness in recent times. In one study, 1.2 percent of school children - all of them girls - met the criteria for fibromyalgia. Some studies indicate an even higher percentage in children.

Do You Have Good Genetics?

While researchers haven't yet found a genetic link with fibromyalgia, they do find that women who are closely related to sufferers are more likely to then develop fibromyalgia themselves. A number of studies have shown this link. One study showed that 28% of children whose mothers had fibromyalgia also developed the disorder. Another study indicated that 66% of parents of children who had fibromyalgia reported similar pains and about 10% actually had the disorder.

How Well Do You Sleep?

Some experts have tried to tie sleep problems with fibromyalgia. Many sufferers have a long history of sleep issues. Similarly, people with sleep apnea and other sleep issues may be at higher risk for developing fibromyalgia. There are some doctors who will recommend sleep studies for their patients with this disorder.

Stressed or Depressed

Studies have found an interesting connection between people who come from highly stressful environments and this disorder. This stress can either be physiological or psychological. Studies show that post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic stress may play a part in the development of fibromyalgia. For people who already have the disorder, added stress may trigger their symptoms and may cause flare-ups.

Depression is not a likely cause of fibromyalgia, but it may increase susceptibility to it. It can be very normal to feel depressed as a response to the pain and fatigue caused by the syndrome. There is a very strong link between psychological disorders and fibromyalgia with some studies indicating between 50 and 70 percent of fibromyalgia patients having a lifetime history of depression.

Other Chronic Conditions

If you already have another condition that causes chronic-pain, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia. These conditions might include lupus, osteoarthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis which is a type of arthritis. Doctors aren't positive about why there is a connection; it is possible that the chronic pain sensitization that occurs in the central nervous system with these conditions causes the fibromyalgia pain.


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