Flu Shots and Fibromyalgia – Should You Get One?

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The term “flu” is a “contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The flue can cause fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. While it’s generally not fatal, the flu may have contributed to the deaths of about 49,000 people over the course of 30 years, according to the CDC. People who are older than 85 years old have the highest rates of flu-related hospitalizations because their age makes them more vulnerable to complications.

Flu vaccine for fibromyalgia patients

The flu vaccine contains a part of the flu-causing virus that is dead. When it’s injected inside you, your white blood cells recognize it as a foreign entity. That’s when the body’s defense mechanism kicks in and starts creating antibodies. Antibodies are defenders that help protect the body. About two weeks after a vaccination, you should have enough antibodies in your body to protect you if you come into contact with the flu virus again.

It is believed vaccines, for influenza or otherwise, could for the time being increase or activate fibromyalgia symptoms. Seasonal flu shots are made from inactivated (dead) viruses, which could theoretically trigger flu-like symptoms or allergic reactions. There is another type of flu vaccine that is administered through a nasal route, it is made from live, diluted influenza viruses and is not suggested for people with underlying medical conditions.

Each year as flu season advances people with ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia, and related illnesses struggle with the flu shot decision. There are, however, some exceptions like Patients who have taken flu vaccinations in the past and tolerated them well and patients who have a serious chronic illness (such as emphysema, diabetes or heart disease) in addition to FM or ME/CFS.

Benefits outweigh the risks because the effects of the flu on FM and ME/CFS patients can be severe and long lasting. You and your doctor should discuss the pros and cons as they apply to your particular case and then make the decision together  that whether you should get flu shot or not. People with fibromyalgia should get the flu shot because their response to the flu is, on average, more severe than that of otherwise healthy people.

The flu is a miserable experience, and fibromyalgia patients tend to deal with miserable experiences even worse than regular people. The normal person takes a week or two to recover, sometimes people with fibromyalgia take months. But there is some evidence that the immune systems of people with FM and ME/CFS are already in a state of chronic activation.

 In that case, any kind of immunization could push this hyper-stimulated state into overdrive, which could significantly increase your symptoms. Many patients are hesitant to get the vaccine in fear of bad fibro flare-ups. Consider past flare-ups in comparison to past bouts with the flu when you are deciding whether to get vaccinated or not.

If you’ve never had flu shot before, or never even had the flu, you won’t have any measure for comparison. Many people do not develop antibodies to the vaccine. So that’s why you may went through extreme disgusting experience and that may even can show relapse and in the end may not develop immunity as well. Weigh the danger of immunization against the risk of contracting the flu if you are elderly and suffering from serious chronic illness for which vaccine is suggested..

This year’s flu vaccine is identical to the vaccine given last year (2010 – 2011).   It is designed to prevent two types of seasonal flu and H1N1 (swine flu).   If you received a flu shot last year and didn’t have any problems with it, you probably won’t have a problem this year either. There is also a homeopathic remedy available at most drugstores called Oscillococcinum that some people swear by to reduce the symptoms and duration of the flu.  

As with many homeopathic medicines, there is a debate as to its effectiveness. While a few clinical trials have suggested that Oscillococcinum can reduce the duration of the symptoms of flu, some researchers question the statistical significance and the scientific rigor of those studies.

Tips to avoid flu

The same healthy practices which are adapted generally to avoid flu are adapted when suffering from fibromyalgia. That includes Ensure you are getting plenty of rest and proper sleep as poor sleep contributes to a weaker immune system,

  • Eat well and ensure you’re getting all the required nutrients your body needs to fend off illness,
  • stay away from others who are visibly sick,
  • Wash your hands properly and frequently,
  • Cover your cough or sneezes and Get the flu shot.

By following these tips, you can have greater success at lowering your risk of contracting the flu. There are two antiviral medications available when you catch the flu, Relenza (an inhaler) or Tamiflu, in tablet form, when you have decided not going for vaccination, have them. These medications must be taken within 48 hours of onset in order to reduce the severity and length of the illness.

Flu shots do not cause fibromyalgia. If you’re largely home bound and have limited contact with other people, your risk of exposure to the flu will be minimal.   On the other hand, if you have school-age children who bring home every germ and virus imaginable, then your chances of catching the flu will me much higher.

Related Article: Also Read

Recently Discovered Vaccine Treat Fibromyalgia Patient

References:

  • Flu Shots, Swine Flu, and Fibromyalgia: Should Pain Patients Get Vaccinated? by Sarah Klein via Health
  • Should You Get a Flu Shot? Here’s Dr. Lapp’s Current Thinking via Pro Health

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