For many people, fibromyalgia involves certain nutritional deficiencies. One that we should all be aware of is low iron, which can lead to a type of anemia.
A study published in 2010 showed a significant difference in serum ferritin (iron) levels between healthy people and those with fibromyalgia. Researchers concluded that low iron created a 6.5-fold increase to the risk of fibromyalgia.
Some of the study participants had iron-deficiency anemia, but some were at the low end of what's considered normal.
I recently got an email from a woman who says treating her anemia greatly reduced her pain, fatigue and other fibromyalgia symptoms. It made me wonder how many of us are living with low iron and don't realize it.
Anemia isn't a problem I've ever worried about. In fact, while looking at my test results, a nurse once asked me if I'd been eating raw meat because my iron level was extremely high. Even during pregnancy, my stores just began to drop a little in the third trimester.
However, that was before fibromyalgia. Now I'm thinking I should ask my doctor to test my iron the next time I go in for blood work.
It's easy to see how anemia would make fibromyalgia worse, at the very least. The symptoms include:
- Cognitive problems
- Cold hands and feet
- Pale skin
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Looking at that, I can see how anemia could be missed in someone with this illness. The symptoms are also remarkably similar to those associated with low thyroid hormone (which is also common in us.) While it's possible for people with chronic fatigue syndrome to be anemic, anemia is one of the conditions doctors should exclude before diagnosing it. Still, it doesn't hurt to get checked now and then.
To see how anemia is treated, see Treatments for Iron-Deficiency Anemia, by former About.com Women's Health Guide Tracee Cornforth.
Have you ever been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, or had levels that were borderline low? Has upping your iron helped your fibromyalgia symptoms? Leave your comments below!
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