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Coping With FMS: Educating Yourself

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 21 Aug 2012 |
 
Background Information Learning

Like many disorders, getting hold of background information and learning about the disorder can make it easier to cope with the symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome.

Learn about Yourself

The first thing to learn about in fibromyalgia syndrome is you. Rather than knowing how everyone else reacts to things, spend some time thinking about how YOU:

  • React to exercise and how much you can do. Exercise can help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome, but it’s important to know your limits and how much time you need for rest and recovery between exercise sessions.
  • React to certain foods – are there foods that trigger fibromyalgia syndrome symptoms?
  • React to alcohol – learn how much (or how little) you can drink, or how you can avoid reactions.
  • React to winter bugs – how long to you need to get over viral infections.
It’s also important to know your own symptoms, so that you can talk to a doctor or specialist if the symptoms change or if any new symptoms appear. These could be part of fibromyalgia syndrome, or they could be symptoms of something else, which can actually be diagnosed and treated, and might make coping with fibromyalgia syndrome itself easier.

Learn about Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Especially for people who are newly diagnosed, take some time to research fibromyalgia syndrome, by talking to doctors and nurses, and to other people with the syndrome, and find out as much as possible. See if there is a self-help group for people with fibromyalgia syndrome.

The Internet is a great source of information, but be aware that a lot of it is written by people with no scientific or medical training, who are just reporting their own symptoms, which may be different from yours. Also, be aware that there are a lot of ‘snake oil’ salespeople out there who peddle pseudoscience (fake science that’s dressed up with ‘sciencey’ words to sound real) and expensive or dangerous treatments that either just don’t work or could actually make things far worse.

Learning about fibromyalgia syndrome can provide access to ‘living aids’, including things to help with reading, or information about the best kinds of bedding or furniture. It’s also important to talk to carers, family and friends about fibromyalgia syndrome– as it’s an invisible disorder, people with fibromyalgia syndrome don’t always look ill.

Learn about Treatments

While fibromyalgia syndrome isn’t curable, there are a number of treatments for different symptoms, such as antidepressants, anti-inflammatories and painkillers. Take some time to read up about the different treatments for fibromyalgia syndrome. This could be by talking to patients, doctors and nurses, reading books or looking at websites.

Carers Need Education too

People who care for individuals with fibromyalgia syndrome need to understand the disorder too – it will help them provide care, and will help them cope with the inevitable stresses too. Make sure that carers, friends and family have lots of good-quality information, so that they understand about the disorder – for example, why days out sometimes have to be cancelled, or jobs left unfinished.

A self-help group for carers of people with fibromyalgia syndrome will provide education, as well as support. Carers need care sometimes too!

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