ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia & the Flu

I’ve been sick since Friday and I’m assuming it’s the flu bug that has been going around.  I’ve been feeling semi-sick on my stomach and I have a cold and sinus headache and now it’s settled in my chest, so I’m coughing with it.   When you add this on top of all of the stress from the holidays and trying to recover from the exhaustion of that, I haven’t been doing very well. 

One thing I have discovered is that chronically ill patients like those of us with CFS & Fibromyalgia tend to remain sicker longer than a normal person does with the flu.  I even had the flu shot and I still got sick.  I am not having the severity of the acute symptoms that I’m hearing a lot of people at work say they have been having, but after a couple of days, most of them have been feeling better.  Here it is five days later and I’m still sick. 

I am extremely funny about germs and this is why.  I try not to be around sick people but when you work with the public, you can’t avoid it.  I am always using hand sanitizers and washing my hands at work, but there are too many people and too many germs – there’s no way to avoid them. 

Getting something as simple as the flu can be really detrimental to someone with CFS or Fibromyalgia because it causes all of our other symptoms to flare.  It makes the exhaustion of the CFS worse; it makes the pain of the Fibromyalgia worse; it makes the sleeping issues seen in both disorders worse; and it is overall just harder for our bodies to come back afterward.  Our immune systems are already compromised so something as mild as a cold or a flu can wreak havoc on our entire system. 

Have you been sick this winter with the cold or flu?  How long has it taken you to recover?

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  1. Wow, I have Fibro and the Flu too, I have the same problems as you describe in your post. This is my third week off sick, and I am frustrated by my symptoms and the feeling of being housebound. The pain and fatigue are so disabling! All I can say is stay warm and rest. Hope you feel better soon x

  2. I had the same experience this summer: had a flu shot in the fall, but I and hubby both got sick with the flu while travelling. He was sicker than I was: he vomited for the first time in the 28 years I’ve known him. But, he got better faster. Within a week, he was fine, while I was still struggling with nausea, cramps, aches, and such.
    I had a flu shot again this year (as did hubby this time). We both got a stomach bug (not the flu) and again, he got better faster than I did. I think that fibro and chronic pain make our systems more vulnerable, and slower to “heal.”
    Hope you and Mrs. C. get feeling better soon!

  3. I have fms and am just getting over the flu. Almost 4 weeks since i got ill. Yhe chest inffection and stomach upset are much better but i still have a constant headache, sinus pain, earache and dizzy spells. Alongside the usual back and neck ache. Feeling really down and fed up.
    I think you are righy about our systems being more vulnerable, i always seem to take longer than others to get over bugs and virus’s. At least i have my appetite back and am tring to eat myself well again! Hope you all feel better soon

  4. I have been sick almost a week now, the worst was new years day had just gotten off the road from Mississippi to Michigan after spending the holidays with my family, I could barley walk. My pain brought me to tears. No vomiting, just feel weak and sick . Some congestion, sore throat and ears ache.

  5. I think the most important thing is that each person finds a trusted provider (either western or natural or both) and make the decision based on their own research and gut feelings. I think it is important to not make decisions based on fear, paranoia and definitely not because “well the doctor told me to do it”. For many reasons, I choose not to get the flu shot. So far this season, my son has had the flu (H1N1) and my husband just had it (he didn’t feel like going to get the actual diagnosis). Interestingly enough, I haven’t gotten sick. I’m having some mild cold symptoms. At this point in my journey with chronic pain, I am convinced that it is because of my shift towards using CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine). Over the past 9 months, I have done several cleanses (liver, gallbladder and bowel) and I also take supplements etc.

  6. I have had FM for almost 20 years. In the past, I’ve been quite fortunate to have a major case of the flu (respiratory).
    With FM, I have always hated the CFS. However, post flu, now 10 days, I have never felt so “washed out.” Also, my skin hurts.
    Also, I’m so cold and feel like I have the chills; indicative of a fever. My temperature is normal. The main problem is that I cannot shake this ADDED fatigue. I can barely move.
    Having FM and a virus is one bad combination!!!

  7. I have been diagnosed with FM in the last few months. I have been sick for three weeks I too, have found harder to kick flu and cold longer than norm. My daughter is getting married in a week and I am desperately trying to get better. I am limited to what the doctor can give me because I have no insurance. It’s so disheartening.

    Sad in St. Petersburg

  8. I’m on my 5/6th day of coping with Fibromyalgia, me/cfs and a flu/sore throat/cough attack… with no signs of it easing up.
    My sore throat has improved as my flu has worsened, my fatigue & pain levels are through the roof & my temperature is still fluctuating nicely.
    Too be honest I feel like taking to my bed and hibernating until its all over… it really is the pits but I was pleased to find these posts & blog as I now know it’s normal for someone with these conditions… so thanks 🙂

  9. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2001. I experience much of the same as what you describe. 8 days ago I was diagnosed with the flu. I have done everything folks have told me to do to recover faster — took TamiFlu, drinking lots of liquids, LOTS of bed rest, etc. and I am still sick. The other folks I work with who have gotten this flu have returned to work within 3-5 days or so. Being on my 8th day, I got up, showered and decided I needed to get to work. I ended up right back in bed within 15 minutes due to exhaustion, shortness of breath and dizziness. Even though my fever broke 4 days ago, I can’t seem to get enough energy back to do ANYTHING. And the aches and pains are so frustrating. And no matter how much sleep I get, my body keeps telling me to get more! How can it need anymore rest? I’ve been in bed for 8 days?! It becomes embarrassing when other people can’t figure out why you aren’t “getting over it”. I just keep reminding myself that it could be so much worse – so I’m trying to be thankful that I have a nice cozy warm bed to recuperate in! (And family who are trying very hard to be understanding.)

  10. I’m 25 and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about 5 years ago. Whenever I get the flu, I’m practically bed-bound and it lasts for about 2 weeks. I had the flu and a sinus infection for 3 weeks. This is the 4th week… all my other flu symptoms are gone but I have a cough that I just can’t stand and I get shivers/dizziness throughout the whole day. My family and doctors (who believe it’s acid reflux) keep telling me that I’m lazy and that people always do stuff when they get sick. But I feel that something’s wrong… and I’m tired of feeling tired without any explanation.

  11. Went in search of confirmation that someone with CFS/me takes longer to recover from the flu and voila! Thanks all of you for sharing. Am on day 8 of a flu and had been feeling relatively “good” with my CFS/me before I got sick. It has been discouraging to find myself lying down again most of the day without any reserve of energy AT ALL to do much of anything. Reminded to hang in there. This too shall pass. But feels like whatever progress I had made has been ripped away. There just is no option to “push” through, just have to surrender, accept, appreciate that I at least have a comfortable place to be!

  12. I was diagnosed with Fibro in 2012, and unfortunately the last year has seen me becoming severe. I am into my 3rd week of flu and bronchitis, and am experiencing hell. Apart from my FM symptoms shooting through the roof, my chest burning and aching constantly and the horrible persistent headache, the worst is that it’s just not getting better. My family has run out of the “How are you feeling today?”‘s and “Can I get you anything?”‘s and basically ignores me having flu as it seems like just another inconvenience me being sick has on them. I was told sarcastically “Enjoy your lazy day” when I was feeling seriously horrible yesterday, and it left me hurt and speechless. I know to put on a thick skin most of the time, but dealing with this crazy flu, hectic Fibro flare-up and negativity on top of it, is getting me really down. I would give anything to be “normal” again. 🙁

  13. I most likely have CFS or adrenal exhaustion & I get bugs more often and it takes me longer than the average person to recover. I had a blood test which revealed that I’m on the borderline for having a connective tissue disorder. My doctor told me from information in a medical book she has that people with a connective tissue disorder and who are on the borderline are more likely to have chronic fatigue. My naturopath has made up a tonic which assists my immune system and circulation & it has improved by quality of life, even if my energy levels are not what they used to be. I’ve had to give up eating foods with much sugar as these bring my immune system down & it will be very easy for me to catch a bug. I generally have to limit my time and/or avoid places where people have bugs during high cold & flu times. I’ve found that getting enough rest, including during the day when I need it, really helps my immune system to be stronger.

  14. I had the flu jab on Thursday before New Year’s Day and started to feel so unwell with flu on the Friday afternoon. Ended up with bronchitis and now left with temperature after nearly 2 weeks. Didn’t realise how much longer it takes to get over viruses with cfs. Now that I know I just have to go with the flow and be patient. Wow that’s so hard as I was feeling so well before I got ill and I have just started a new job that I love.

  15. Sandy Russell says:

    I have ME/CFS. I’ve had the current flu virus for five weeks now and feel no better today than I did five weeks ago. Occasionally I feel a bit better and go outside for a five minute stroll and it’s always followed by a relapse. No cough but hot and cold, pain in head and sinuses, stomach and muscle aches. The worst is feeling so dreadful and the fatigue is the same as I suffered for many years when I was bedridden and ‘ severely affected’.
    This virus has hit many people with strong immune systems really hard so I’m wondering if my immune system is actually strong enough to throw it off. And if so – will I get post viral fatigue for months on end. Before getting this virus I had my best spell of relatively good health for many years !
    Great to find this forum. Thanks everyone. The best thing knowing you’re not alone.

  16. Kathy L. says:

    I’ve been diagnosed with FM for 10 yrs. I just had type A flu and I was really sick for 4 weeks. I’ve been over the flu symptoms but the fatigue is terrible and I’ve now been off work 7 1/2 wks. I sleep all the time. I’m on 3 meds for my FM, but they don’t really help fatigue. The pain and achiness and headaches have been terrible too. I’ve had blood work done to check for any other issues and it’s basically fine. How long does this fatigue drag on?? I need to get back to work.

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