Friday, November 30, 2012
Why Stuff Bugs Us So Much with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
By Adrienne Dellwo, About.com GuideNovember 27, 2012 If you have fibromyalgia (FMS) or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), you know that a lot of things started bugging you after you got sick. Bright lights, noise, crowds, clothing tags, waistbands, textures, fragrances, foods ... it seems that just about anything can rattle your nerves or stir up your symptoms, and all of it is aggravating. So why does so much stuff bug us? Two words: central sensitization. Let's take a closer look at the second word first. Sensitization A key aspect of both FMS and ME/CFS is that our bodies are overly sensitive to, well, pretty much everything. It's not that we're emotionally over sensitive -- it's a physiological thing. Medically speaking, the word sensitivity is most often used when talking about allergies. When allergies form, it's because something in the immune system malfunctions and begins reacting inappropriately to a substance. The immune system has been "sensitized" to the substance. In non-allergy situations, it's essentially the same but in a different system of the body. And that takes us to the first word above.... What Does "Central" Mean? In this case, "central" means "central nervous system," or CNS. The CNS is made up of your brain, spinal cord, and nerves of the spinal cord. In FMS and ME/CFS, the entire nervous system becomes sensitized. To what? Anything unpleasant. The medical term for those unpleasant things is "noxious stimuli." It can be a bad smell, pain, bright light, anything. Because our bodies are sensitized, they react more strongly than most people's. That means lights are too bright for us when they're just fine for other people. Same goes for noise, visual chaos, heat, cold, pressure on the skin, etc. Our nerves over-react to the things around us, and our brains basically throw a little hissy fit when they get the signals, and that makes it all the worse. Does Brain Fog from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Start in the Heart? By Adrienne Dellwo, About.com GuideNovember 28, 2012 brain fog/fibro fogResearch Brief New research suggests that the cognitive function ("brain fog") of chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) may be due to irregularities in the heart, which in turn stem from impaired vagus nerve activity. Brain fog is one of the most pervasive symptoms of ME/CFS, and it can be a major debilitating factor. Brain fog can include short-term memory problems, inability to multitask, comprehension difficulties, language problems, and disorientation. In the study, researchers monitored cardiac activity while participants performed cognitive tasks. They found: • People with ME/CFS were slower than healthy controls • Heart-rate variability was low and unresponsive in the ME/CFS group • The heart rate was more reactive after cognitive challenges • Heart-rate recovery was slow after cognitive challenges • Heart-rate variability was an accurate predictor of cognitive outcome Those cardiac functions are regulated by the vagus nerve. Dysfunction of the vagus nerve has long been suspected in ME/CFS, especially when it involves a symptom called neurally mediated hypotension (dizziness upon standing due to a sudden drop in blood pressure.) When Kids Have Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome By Adrienne Dellwo, About.com GuideNovember 30, 2012 The stereotypical images of someone with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is usually either an old woman or a burned-out yuppie. That makes it easy for people to miss the fact that anyone, at any age, can get FMS or ME/CFS. That includes children. When you know how debilitating these illnesses are, it breaks your heart to think about what childhood is like for those who have them. When both of these conditions are under-researched, it's fairly obvious that the juvenile forms haven't gotten a lot of attention from the medical community.