If you have fibromyalgia, you’ve probably noticed that you suffer from a bunch of symptoms that you almost never see discussed in connection with the condition. Those might include things like chronic itching, frequent urination, and maybe even frequent low-grade fevers. Fever, or pyrexia, is actually a common symptom among people with fibromyalgia, but how often do you hear about it?
And it can drive you crazy to have frequent fevers that seem to develop for no real reason, right? That’s especially true when you have no idea that fibromyalgia might be the explanation.
So, just what exactly is going on? And what can you do about it?
PYREXIA AND FIBROMYALGIA
The most obvious question is, “Does fibromyalgia cause fevers?” Is there something about the condition itself that causes the body’s temperature to rise?
Unfortunately, there just isn’t a good answer to that question. We still don’t know much about fibromyalgia. We don’t even know for sure what causes it or how it works. If we understood the basic mechanisms behind the condition, we might have a better idea of why people with fibromyalgia often suffer from low-grade fevers.
Luckily, we do know enough about the condition that we can make a few educated guesses at what might be behind the symptom.
First, people with fibromyalgia often have weaker immune systems. This means that people suffering from fevers might actually just be getting sick more often. But if you’ve experienced this symptom, you know that this probably doesn’t cover every case.
Often, people with fibromyalgia develop fevers without any other sign that they’re suffering from a cold or similar infection that could explain it.
But, the answer may still lie in the immune system.
The immune system protects the body by releasing cells that attack foreign bacteria and viruses. But sometimes, the immune system begins to attack the body itself. This is called an autoimmune disease. And autoimmune disease can produce symptoms like fatigue, muscle pains, and frequent fevers.
Sort of sounds like fibromyalgia, doesn’t it?
in fact, fibromyalgia shares many symptoms with autoimmune diseases. Historically, this has led many doctors to suggest that fibromyalgia itself might be an autoimmune disease. But for a number of reasons, we’ve ruled this out in recent years. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there might not be some connection. And the link between fibromyalgia and autoimmune disease, whatever it is, might explain why people with fibromyalgia also experience frequent fevers.
There’s also another possible explanation that involves the immune system. Some researchers have suggested that the root of fibromyalgia might be immune cells in the brain called microglia.
The microglia produce flu-like symptoms in the body so that they can force you to rest while they fight off infections. Microglia seem to be activated by higher levels of a protein called leptin, which is found in higher concentrations in the bodies of people with fibromyalgia.
Leptin levels can vary from day to day, and the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms seems to be linked to how much leptin is in the blood.
It might be that on the days that leptin levels spike, the immune cells in the brain begin triggering symptoms like fevers. This could explain why people with fibromyalgia frequently get fevers.
Until we know more about the condition, we won’t know for sure if this is the explanation. But these are some plausible scenarios.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to help manage pyrexia.
PREVENTING AND MANAGING PYREXIA
We don’t know exactly why fibromyalgia is linked to fevers, so it’s difficult to say for sure what you can do to prevent them. But many people with the condition have noted that their fevers seem to come after intense exercise or spending time outside in the sun. So basically, anything that raises your body temperature might trigger the fevers.
So, managing your body temperature might help prevent them. Make sure to wear cool clothing if you’re outside, and drink plenty of water. Take frequent breaks when exercising or spending time outdoors to help prevent overheating. And ice packs or a wet cloth on the neck can help cool you down as well.
Managing stress is also a good idea, as stress seems to make all the symptoms of fibromyalgia worse, including fevers. You can find a great guide on ways to effectively manage stress when you have fibro here.
If you’re already suffering from a fever, there’s a few things you can do. Make sure to rest and stay hydrated. This will help your body recover faster.
If possible, take fever-reducing medications like aspirin or ibuprofen. Finally, try to keep your core temperature down with cool baths or cold compresses.
While annoying, low fevers aren’t usually something you need to worry too much about. They usually resolve themselves in a few hours or days. But if your fever goes above 103 degrees (or 39.4C), or you have other symptoms like vomiting, you should see a doctor. It could be a sign of something more serious.
So what do you think? Do you have fevers with fibromyalgia? What do you think the link is? Let us know in the comments.