Fibromyalgia and Covid-19
I decided to write this post as a result of the many comments and questions I have seen on some of the Facebook support groups I am a member of. There seems to be a lot of confusion as to whether having fibromyalgia puts you at a greater risk for catching Covid-19, as well as if it makes fighting it off harder. There seems to be a lot of confusion as to the risks, and even what kind of disorder fibromyalgia is.
So part 1 - is fibromyalgia and auto-immune disorder. This one is simple - in short, NO. Fibromyalgia is NOT an auto-immune disorder itself. Fibromyalgia is considered to be a neurobiological disorder or neuro-sensory disorder. As such, it is considered to be a disorder that relates to how your brain and nerves interact with your body. This is why fibromyalgia is also considered a pain disorder, as it relates to how your brain and body interact and cause you to feel more pain.
Part 2 - the OTHER disorders you may have. One thing that seems to mislead a lot of people is that they are diagnosed with a number of different disorders/diseases, and when they are told they are immuno-compromised, they automatically associate that term with all their disorders - thus if you have something like rheumatoid arthritis as well, and are told you are immunocompromised, it gets lumped in that fibromyalgia must also impact that status. This then tends to lead to conversations where someone will mention that they are immuno-compromised AND have fibromyalgia, and the mis-information gets propagated. It is entirely possible to have multiple diagnosis, and each disorder or disease has its own list of impacts on the body. This does not mean that every issue has a blanket of every impact.
Part 3 - medications. This is a big one as it is entirely possible to have a disorder such as fibromyalgia which does not compromise immunity, but be on a medication that, by its nature, causes the individual to become immuno-compromised. The most common of these drugs is Prednisone. This medication is prescribed for everything from treating allergies and skin conditions to lupus, arthritis and colitis. As it is a steroid medication, it weakens the immune system, which makes it easier for you to develop infections and makes it more difficult for your body to fight off something like Covid-19. To confirm if a medication you are taking can weaken your immunity, it is best to speak with a pharmacist or physician who can step you through the risks. Note that this is also recommended as being on a medication such as Prednisone should also be considered when taking other supplements that will boost your immunity - as a key reason in many cases for taking it is that you actually need to supress your immunity as your body is "fighting" itself, taking any natural supplements that boost immunity will actually reduce the efficiency of the drug and may result in a "flare" for the disorder/disease it is being taken for. NEVER start taking any natural supplements without talking with a physician, pharmacist or nutrition professional about possible interactions if you are taking any medical drugs for your disorder(s).
Part 4 - stress. It is pretty widely known these days that stress wears the body down and naturally supresses the immune system. If you are tired, worn down, have pent up stress, frustration or anger, you are more likely to find you will catch whatever cold or flu is currently going around. This is because stress of any kind causes your body to produce a hormone called cortisol. Over short time frames, increased cortisol actually improves your immunity. However, over time, your body can actually get used to the excess cortisol in your blood and this causes your body to allow for more inflammation in your body, and this excess inflammation taxes your immune system.
more stress = more inflammation = lower immunity
Of course for someone with fibromyalgia where you are potentially constantly in pain and dealing with the many symptoms, limitations, frustrations and the like, it is very common to feel stress and get into a vicious cycle of being stressed because of your fibromyalgia, getting ill with something else as well as having inflammation building up which makes it harder to deal with your fibromyalgia symptoms, leading to more stress. And the cycle can continue indefinitely.
So the short answer to :"does Fibromyalgia make you immuno-compromised and more at risk of catching Covid-19" ….. on its own, no. But you need to make sure you look at the big picture of all the other factors in your life, like medications, stress, and any other medical issues you may have, to determine where your risk lies. That being said, everyone should be taking precautions with their health, and trying to reduce their risk of exposure. Paranoia and panic are more likely to add to your risk, as it will increase your stress levels. Simply following the basic instructions of not touching your face, washing your hands, sanitizing items brought into your home, limiting interactions with others, and focussing on staying happy and healthy at home for the time being is a solid strategy for helping to reduce the risk to yourself, as well as your family. And definitely, if you are unsure about your risks, talk to your medical professionals to discuss what steps you should be taking related to your specifics (meds, disorders, etc.) to protect yourself and reduce the risk of both needing medical assistance as well as reduce the risk of spread.