Fibromyalgia and Metabolic Syndrome

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One of the worst things about fibromyalgia is that it often makes it hard to exercise. The physical pain and fatigue mean that too often, people who suffer from the condition find themselves stuck in bed. As a result, people with fibromyalgia often struggle with controlling their weight. And not only can that increase the amount of pain you experience, it can leave you at risk of something called metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome can also increase your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Therefore, there’s obviously a slippery slope that leads from fibromyalgia to metabolic syndrome to conditions like heart attacks and strokes. So, let’s talk about what metabolic syndrome is, how it’s related to fibromyalgia, and what you can do to treat it.

What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a set of different symptoms that occur together. Those symptoms include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat. Each of these symptoms increases your risk of serious health problems by themselves like increased risk of diabetes, strokes, and heart attacks.

So, when you have all of the symptoms together in the form of metabolic syndrome, it can be life-threatening.

Metabolic syndrome is also extremely common. It’s estimated that one in four American adults have the condition. The most obvious symptom of the condition is having a high amount of body fat. That’s especially true if the fat is concentrated around the waistline.

In addition, someone who suffers from the condition might notice symptoms that are similar to diabetes due to increased blood sugar levels like feeling thirsty, fatigue, and blurred vision.

The other problems from the condition, like having elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure usually don’t cause noticeable symptoms, which can make them especially dangerous.

Metabolic syndrome tends to run in families. And there also seems to be a significant relationship between metabolic syndrome and chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.

How Is It Related To Fibromyalgia?

We aren’t sure what causes metabolic syndrome. Hormonal changes may play a role in the condition. People with the condition often show signs of insulin resistance. Obesity may lead to insulin resistance, which causes the other symptoms of the condition. Or it could be that the insulin resistance leads to obesity. At the moment, the exact relationship isn’t well understood.

But there are also a few things that definitely seem to make someone more likely to develop metabolic syndrome. Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, sleep disturbances, and stress all seem to significantly increase your risk.

And of course, many of those risk factors are common in people with fibromyalgia. The chronic pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia make it difficult to get exercise or maintain a healthy diet. As a result, many people with fibromyalgia struggle with being overweight. In addition, living with chronic pain is obviously extremely stressful. And over time, all of those risk factors make someone with fibromyalgia more likely to develop metabolic syndrome.

Luckily there are ways to help manage the condition.

What Can You Do To Treat It?

The most important thing when it comes to managing metabolic syndrome is to make lifestyle changes to reduce your body fat. Losing just a few pounds can make a big difference when it comes to the severity of your symptoms.

Obviously, it’s hard to manage losing weight on top of struggling with fibromyalgia. Start with small amounts of exercise during the day. Just 45 minutes of light exercise five times a week can be enough to help lose weight. And it’s also been proven that moderate weight loss and exercise can help prevent the insulin resistance that’s common in cases of metabolic syndrome from progressing to diabetes.

In a broader sense, losing weight isn’t enough. You have to also have to make a long-term commitment to keeping the weight off. That might require serious changes to your lifestyle. The good news is that the longer you keep up these changes, the easier they will be to sustain into the future.

Otherwise, treatment for the condition is largely focused on managing the symptoms. The high blood pressure is especially important to control since it can lead to heart attacks or strokes. There are a number of medications that doctors can prescribe to treat high blood pressure.

And by losing enough weight and keeping it off, you can actually reverse many of the complications of metabolic syndrome. So if you’re struggling with metabolic syndrome, consult your doctor for help with losing weight, it’s vital to treating the condition.


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