Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome
If you suffer with fibromyalgia you are likely to find your symptoms can be aggravated by a wide variety of stimuli. You may be having a pretty good day, pain is almost manageable and you feeling like you just might end the day in peace. Then someone walks into the office wearing a heavy dose of cologne. Wham – you’ve got a migraine in 30 seconds or less.
Triggers like certain smells, perfumes, foods or bright lights can be serious aggravating factors for people with fibromyalgia. A condition called multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome (MCSS) may be the reason for the hyper-sensitivity to sounds, light, and smells. MCSS can make life miserable, exacerbating the symptoms of fibromyalgia, hitting without warning and becoming worse over time. Often the syndrome begins with one trigger and then, over time, additional factors enter in, causing symptoms that affect the entire body, including the skin, respiratory system, muscles, joints, the gastrointestinal tract, and neurological and immune systems as well.
This syndrome has myriad symptoms associated with it:
· typical allergy-type symptoms like runny nose; itchy, watery eyes; sore throat
· abdominal cramps and diarrhea
· muscle and joint aches and pains
· sleep disturbances and fatigue
· migraines and scalp pain
· breathing challenges
· lack of concentration
Since there is no way of knowing exactly when something will trigger symptoms of fibromyalgia, it is difficult to suggest ways to avoid the aggravating factors. The best one can do is treat the symptoms when they appear.
Sleep that Doesn’t Refresh or Regenerate
Lack of restorative sleep contributes greatly to the exacerbation of fibromyalgia syndrome symptoms. People with fibromyalgia go to bed tired and tend to wake up tired as well. The effects of not having a good night’s sleep add to the already painful ailment and make the fatigue that is part of fibromyalgia even worse. When you are tired, then it is more difficult to keep your mood up and to mentally stay on top of day-to-day activities. Fibro-fog and depression are aggravated by lack of sleep. The body fails to repair itself properly, making sore muscles even sorer.
Medications and alternative health strategies to deal with the pain that is usually at the core of the sleeplessness should be investigated in order to improve the quality of sleep you get. Some ideas that have worked for others may be included in your lifestyle and could prove to be helpful in getting that much-needed, restful and restorative sleep.
· Set regular “sleep” times. Go to bed at the same time at night and get up at the same time in the morning. Avoid staying in bed too long and napping throughout the day. This enhances circadian rhythm, which will help your body know when it is tired and needs to sleep.
· Exercise regularly, but stop at least three hours before bedtime.
· No alcohol for six hours before sleep and the same goes for caffeine.
· Make sure your sleeping environment is conducive to sound sleep: dark room, cool temperature, no television or computers or other stimuli.
· Use relaxation techniques to quiet the mind and body.
If you find that using these techniques is not adequate to produce a restful sleep, you may have to resort to tricyclic antidepressants or SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). These drugs seem to decrease fatigue and relieve the muscle pain and spasms that often interfere with sleep.
Fear of Overdoing It Causes More Harm than Good
Although overexertion and muscle strain are consistent with fibromyalgia sufferers, it is important to remember that exercise is important and should not be neglected. Certainly, it is easy enough to overdo it, especially with FMS and the heightened tendency of the body to be in pain. Too much physical activity can aggravate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, making you swear you’ll never do anything physical again. Just the thought of exercise might put you over the top thinking about the pain in your joints that is too much to endure.
It may be hard to imagine that exercise can actually make you feel better when your experience tells you that muscle strain is at a pain level of 11 on a scale of one to ten. However, avoiding exercise could be one of the things that actually aggravates your symptoms. By decreasing or stopping exercise to avoid the discomfort, the stiffness and pain symptoms will become worse, not better.
Regular, gentle exercise will help increase muscle strength, increase production of endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers, and it can even make it easier to sleep at night. With consistent, appropriate exercise, your body will repair and restore itself better and ultimately you will be less prone to injury as your muscles become stronger and healthier. An exercise program that includes stretching (really important for fibro sufferers); cardio-vascular conditioning; and strength training can be the very thing that helps you overcome some of the limitations and challenges you deal with having fibromyalgia.
There are a number of things that aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms. Read more about them in our article in this section.