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.

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