You may have seen some conflicting information regarding fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. Some people will tell you it is considered to be an autoimmune disease, others will tell you it’s not. However, you must know that physicians do not consider fibromyalgia to be an autoimmune disease.
The cause of this debilitating disease is not known and individuals who have other diseases could be much more likely to be affected with it. Diseases that make an individual more susceptible to fibromyalgia are: ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Typically, the symptoms of fibromyalgia are the same as those in some of these autoimmune diseases, which makes diagnosing much more difficult.
At this point in time, fibromyalgia is not considered to be an autoimmune disease. Further research could change this, but that doesn’t seem likely right now. Though some cases of fibromyalgia do involve a dysregulation of the immune system itself, this is much different than the dysregulation caused by an autoimmune disease. Right now, researchers have been unable to totally understand the nature of the dysregulation caused by fibromyalgia.
Autoimmune Diseases Explained
As mentioned before, autoimmune diseases include ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and others. Nowhere in this list will you find fibromyalgia autoimmune disease. So, though fibromyalgia does exhibit the symptoms of an autoimmune disease/disorder, it is not considered to be one.
There are many symptoms of an autoimmune disease- many of which are the same or almost the same in those who have fibromyalgia. Following are some of the symptoms that occur with autoimmune diseases that could also point to fibromyalgia.
- Extreme Fatigue- this is the level of fatigue that is not helped by getting some rest.
- Joint and Muscle Pain- this can be a range of pain, from general pain, to burning, to aching, general soreness in the muscles and aches/pains in the joints.
- Muscle Weakness- weak feeling in the muscles, as well as loss of hand/arm or leg/thigh strength.
- Swollen Glands- especially those in the throat, under the arms, and the tops of the legs around the groin.
Greater Susceptibility to Infections- frequent bladder infections, colds, ear infections, yeast infections, sore throat and sinus problems are very common among both fibromyalgia patients and those patients with autoimmune disorders. Additionally, you will experience a much slower recovery time if you have an autoimmune disorder.
- Sleep Disturbances- problems with falling/staying asleep.
- Weight Gain/Loss- changes in weight, usually in a 10 to 15 pound range.
- Low Blood Sugar- this points to adrenal fatigue.
- Changes in Blood Pressure- you may have very high or very low blood pressure, in combination with feelings of vertigo or dizziness, palpitations/fluctuations in heart rate, and/or fainting.
- Candida Yeast Infections- this includes sinus infections, digestive problems, thrush, or even vaginal yeast infections.
- Allergies- allergic/sensitive to certain chemicals, foods, and things in the environment.
- Digestive Problems- this includes heartburn, constipation, cramping, bloating, pain in the abdomen, excessive gas, and even diarrhea is quite common.
- Depression/Anxiety- changes in both mood and emotions, excessively irritable, and even panic attacks.
- Memory Problems- this often manifests as what is called “brain fog” where you can only vaguely remember things.
- Thyroid Problems- typically, the problem is hypothyroidism, though sometimes can be hyperthyroidism, and typically does not show up on a thyroid test. This can manifest itself as excessive hair loss and a lowered body temperature.
- Headaches that keep occurring- this can be severe headaches or migraines.
- Low Grade Fevers- quite common, some experience this every single day.
- PMS- bloating, heavy bleeding, extreme cramps and an irregular cycle are quite common with both fibromyalgia and an autoimmune disease.