What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a collection of symptoms characterized by widespread pain with chronic fatigue and mental dizziness or fibro fog. This brain fog affects cognitive functioning, resulting in feelings of fatigue and mental cloudiness, even after a full night's sleep. Researchers still are not sure about the causes or biological underpinnings of fibromyalgia itself, let alone among its symptoms. Still, fibro fog is a genuine difficulty experienced with this disease. You can manage this classic symptom of fibromyalgia with some essential tips.

See: Fibromyalgia & Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments

Fibro fog or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

What's fibro fog or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

Fibro fog gained its name from the overall sense of mental confusion or inability to concentrate it imposes on those undergoing it. Along with it might come immobilizing fatigue that is not even relieved by a good night's sleep. You cannot sleep fibro fog off since it stems from workings deep in the brain.

Fibro fog feels like you have trouble focusing, locating words, holding discussions, feeling alert, and remembering things.

Many with CFS and fibromyalgia experience cognitive problems called "brain fog" or "fibro fog." The issues include being forgetful, feeling perplexed, and trouble concentrating.

See: Functional Medicine for Brain Fog

What causes fibro fog?

Fibro fog makes it hard to move throughout the day, focus on matters that will need to get done or corral the energy required for school, work, or life activities. It makes doing normal life functions into a hard grinding effort. Individuals who need sharp minds for their tasks may suddenly have difficulty completing comprehensive assignments based on the National Fibromyalgia Research Association (NFRA).

Episodes of the fogginess feeling may come intermittently. It may persist from a few hours to several weeks, or maybe the whole period of a fibromyalgia flare, NFRA says.

Researchers are not exactly sure what causes fibro fog. Scientists and researchers have many hypotheses, however. One theory is that fibro fog is due to a mix of depression and sleep deprivation, but studies so far have not found that to be accurate, reports Arthritis Today.

Another possible cause might be a deficiency of oxygen. Brain scans of those with fibromyalgia have shown that some portions of patients' brains get inadequate amounts of their life-giving element. The identical faulty nervous system firings that may play a part in causing fibromyalgia (FM) could also affect blood vessels in the brain, ultimately resulting in fibro fog, based on Arthritis Today.

Additional research revealed that chronic pain might influence the brain. Functional MRI found that a leading area of the brain mostly connected with emotion is continually active in people with chronic pain. The affected areas don't shut off when they need to, exhausting nerves and disturbing the equilibrium of the mind as a whole. This region is always on, wearing out related neurons and causing unbalanced brain chemistry, based on Arthritis Today.


Is the brain causing this fibro fog?

High quality sleep has many benefits, but some studies show different things are happening in the brains of individuals with fibromyalgia. In one study, brain scans showed that from time to time, people with fibromyalgia don't get enough oxygen in various parts of the brain. One possible explanation is that part of the nervous system is off-kilter, inducing changes in the brain's blood vessels.

A 2013 review in Current Pain and Headache Reports on Cognitive impairment in fibromyalgia patients confirmed that the jury remains out on the specific source of fibro fog. But, it did report that patients may see some cognitive improvement with a combination of physical activity, cognitive-behavioral medication, and therapy.

According to some 2015 inspection in Rheumatology International, Some fibromyalgia patients report that the loss of mental clarity can be even more catastrophic than the pain and fatigue. The most common symptoms of fibro fog include short term memory loss, becoming distracted, and difficulty carrying on conversations.

A 2015 research in Arthritis Care and Research found that fibro fog is a real issue. In a study of 60 people (30 with fibromyalgia and 30 without fibromyalgia), investigators found various impairments of memory and attention in fibromyalgia patients in comparison to healthy controls. What remains unclear is what's causing the cognitive difficulties.


Overlapping and Related Conditions

Besides the numerous symptoms of CFS and FM, individuals with the two conditions often experience one or more additional medical problems, which are often called overlapping and related ailments.

Overlapping states are ones that discuss symptoms and diagnostic criteria in common with CFS and fibromyalgia. Related conditions are medical issues that frequently occur along with CFS and FM. The bottom line is that other diseases besides CFS or FM may be causing some of your symptoms.


See: Living and Controlling Fibromyalgia day by day

Ways to manage fibro fog fatigue and dizziness

Fibro fog fatigue management

Like other symptoms of CFS and fibro, brain fog is mostly managed by using a mix of strategies and by developing new habits. Your attempts to control fatigue and poor sleep can allow you to control fibro fog also.

Living with fibro fog could be hard, but not impossible. Finding a couple of essential tips and strategies can help you lower your pain, increase your abilities, and improve your overall wellbeing. There are a few specific strategies to handle the fog. Try a few of the tips below to discover what works for you.

1. Pacing

Lots of people with CFS and FM find themselves caught in repeating cycles of drive and crash, swinging between overactivity and forced rest. If their symptoms are low, they push to get as much done as they can. But doing a lot of intensifies their symptoms and they wreck. Pacing provides an alternative, a way to live a more predictable and stable life by understanding and staying within limits. With pacing, you can live your life following a plan, as opposed to in response to symptoms, which means you've got a sense of handling your illness instead of illness controlling you.

Pacing can help you decrease the agony that results from overdoing, known as post-exertional malaise or PEM. The critical fact about PEM is the quantity of rest required to recover from overworking is much more than normal and is a punitive cost even for small errors.


2. Planned Rests

Having regular daily rest periods is an integral part of pacing, for many people with CFS and FM that the center of their work to adapt to limits. Scheduled rests give you the means to control symptoms, prevent flare-ups, and bring greater predictability to your daily life. Scheduled or pre-emptive remainder is a preventative measure, a strategy for reducing symptoms, gaining stability, and reducing total rest time. It is a way to prevent flare-ups and escape the cycle of push and crash.

Scheduled rest is a favorite energy management strategy because it's straightforward and brings immediate advantages to the majority of people using it: higher stability, reduced symptoms, and increased stamina. Scheduled resting often causes a decrease in total rest time, due to a reduction in crashes that need long rest periods for healing.

Begin with lying down in a quiet place with your eyes shut. If you end up distracted by your ideas, consider using a relaxation technique, or listening to music. If lying down does not work for you, experiment with different methods of resting.


3. Written lists and reminders

Navigating through life without emotional clarity can be confusing and frustrating. Decrease the amount of information you have to remember by writing down everything. Use your planner with a calendar and a lot of space for composing lists of appointments, to-dos, along with other things you need to remember. Telephones also typically have functions that enable you to enter jobs and even set reminder alarms. Create alerts for your various tasks. By doing this, you have a tiny helper and do not have to rely so much on your foggy brain. 


4. Manage your stress

Stress may worsen fibro fog and pain. Practices like yoga, or breathing deeply and imagining peaceful images can significantly help manage anxiety. Take a few minutes daily, or even several times daily, to lie down in a quiet place and regroup your thoughts. Concentrate on your breath and allow all external stimulation to go. You might even consider creating a particular corner or area in your home that is relaxing for you with comfortable floor cushions.  Living life through a period of fibro fog can itself be stressful and make you feel as though you've lost something precious. It is hard, but try to take everything in stride, maybe seeking assistance from a support team either in person or online.

See: Ayurveda for fibromyalgia

5. Adjust your expectations

Although you probably wish you were working at 110%, the truth is that you are not. Lower your expectations. Get rid of less critical tasks, and simplify your life to conserve energy. Do the best you can now and let the rest go.


6. Gentle Exercise

Exercise is remarkably healthy, both to your body and mind. This one might be hard for you to fathom in a fatigued condition, but exercise often helps people feel better. Begin with low to moderate exercise when you move to a new program, and work extensively with your physician to get an action level that's right for you.

Start slow and increase gradually to more moderate levels of activity with time. Most of all, understand your limits each daily. As soon as you find a fitness program that is appropriate for you, it may decrease depression and anxiety, improve circulation, and help you keep functional.

Try a yoga class or bicycle ride. Maybe do the elliptical at the gym or have a walk. Do something in which you control the speed and quantity of effort, but getting the blood flowing can help you feel better and might alleviate the annoying symptoms of fibro fog. Exercising helps to relieve stress.


7. Keep your mind in tip-top shape

Changes in cognition can be frightening, but fortunately, there are a few choices for working those brain circuits. Puzzles and games may challenge the brain and also keep it in great shape. Engage with matters and creative projects that you like. You can try painting to give your mind a creative outlet.


8. Take a proactive approach to your treatment

Become involved in your treatment plan by becoming a part of your health care team. Ask questions. Research different treatment choices. Be prepared to make decisions unique to your requirements. Instead of getting overwhelmed, getting involved can help you feel less like a patient and more like a person.


9. Set goals

Decide what is most important to you personally by establishing specific goals and priorities. Look beyond the daily fibro fog and pain and into a bigger target. However, there are lots of low-intensity activities and hobbies that can meet those very same needs.


10. Restrict caffeine intake

Some individuals might drink coffee to caffeinate their way throughout the day. This nay cause more harm than good. First, caffeine is a diuretic, which might lead to dehydration, mainly when drank in massive quantities.

Second, you might have the misfortune of drinking a lot of coffee late in the day, which makes it tough to sleep, exacerbating the endless mental fog you are already in. Copious quantities of coffee could also cause an energetic roller coaster marked by highs and lows during the day. Drinking water helps the body function at its highest potential.


11. Use self-care to reduce other symptoms

Find time for self-care using cold and hot therapy to decrease pain. Try hot spots, freezer packs, heating lotions, or cooling gels. Sleep aids, such as body cushions or electric blankets, can also help you keep a better quality of sleep.


12. Get enough vitamin D

Research published in the Saudi Medical JournalTrusted Source Offers evidence of a link between fibromyalgia and vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of vitamin D may raise your chance of fibromyalgia, in addition to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Your skin may produce vitamin D on its own when it is exposed to sunlight. Foods such as eggs, cheese, fatty fish, and fortified products are also rich in Vitamin D and offer the same benefits.


13. Get sufficient magnesium

A calcium deficiency may contribute to feelings of exhaustion or brain fog, too. If your doctor suspects you are not getting enough of this vital mineral, they may recommend changes to your daily diet. They may also encourage you to take a magnesium supplement. A 2012 study published in Rheumatology International analyzed the effects of calcium supplementation on people with fibromyalgia. After taking calcium citrate supplements for eight months, participants showed improvements in many symptoms. Individuals who took calcium citrate with antidepressant drugs showed more improvements. You can discuss it with your doctor if other supplements can help. Some over-the-counter supplements might help alleviate the symptoms of fibro fog. 


15. Share your feelings and learn from others

Getting support from family and friends is crucial. You have the right to request help, and discuss your feelings with those close to you. Support groups may also provide another level of support and compassion from others with fibromyalgia. Look online for blogs and sites that discuss fibromyalgia.

See: How I manage my Fibromyalgia with Fitness

Summary

There is no single approach to managing fibromyalgia. Symptoms can vary from one person to another. So can the best treatment choices. Work with your physician to find treatment options that work for you. They may recommend medications, nutritional supplements, complementary therapies, or lifestyle changes. Always speak to them before making changes to your treatment program. They can help you recognize the potential benefits and hazards.

References

1. Matthana, M. H. (2011, September). The relation between vitamin D deficiency and fibromyalgia syndrome in women. Saudi Medical Journal, 32(9), 925-929 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21894355

2. Questions and answers about fibromyalgia: Who gets fibromyalgia? (2014, July) niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Fibromyalgia/default.asp#b

3. Bagis, S., Karabiber, M., As, I., Tamer, L., Erdogan, C., & Atalay, A. (2013, January). Is magnesium citrate treatment effective on pain, clinical parameters and functional status in patients with fibromyalgia? Rheumatology International, 33(1), 167-172. Retrieved from  ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22271372

4. Living with fibromyalgia, drugs approved to manage pain. (2014, January 31) fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm107802.htm

5. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, October 1). Fibromyalgia: Alternative medicine mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/alternative-medicine/con-20019243

6. Busch, A. J., Webber, S. C., Brachaniec, M., Bidonde, J., Dal Bello-Haas, V., Danyliw, A. D., … Schachter, C. L. (2011, October). Exercise therapy for fibromyalgia. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 15(5), 358-367 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165132

7. Curtis, K., Osadchuk, A., & Katz, J. (2011). An eight-week yoga intervention is associated with improvements in pain, psychological functioning and mindfulness, and changes in cortisol levels in women with fibromyalgia. Journal of Pain Research, 4,189-201. Retrieved from  ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21887116

8. Daw, J. (2002, July-August). Get the massage! Monitor on Psychology, 33(7), 55 apa.org/monitor/julaug02/massage.aspx

9. Etnier, J. L., Karper, W. B., Gapin, J. I., Barella, L. A., Chang, Y. K., & Murphy K. J. (2009, March). Exercise, fibromyalgia, and fibrofog: A pilot study. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 6(2), 239-246   ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19420402

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