Allergic Rhinitis and Fibromyalgia: What’s the Link?

Sinus problems are more common among people with fibromyalgia. But sinus problems can have many causes. Nasal allergies are one of the biggest causes of sinus issues. These symptoms are often part of allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever.

There’s no question that allergic rhinitis can make you feel generally miserable. If you also have fibromyalgia, you’re probably dealing with discomforts associated with that as well. Are they completely separate conditions that have nothing to do with each other? Maybe not. Here’s what you need to know about the possible link between allergic rhinitis and fibromyalgia.

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis is the more common name for what most people just call “allergies.” Another name for the condition is hay fever. When you come into contact with something you’re allergic to, your body has an immune reaction. Common causes of these allergies include the following:

  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Mold
  • Dust
  • Food, on occasion

Allergies to pollen, in particular, are called hay fever. Pollen is produced by plants, including trees, grasses, and trees. These allergies are often seasonal based on when plants shed tiny particles. These tiny particles called pollen are spread through the air by wind. Hot, dry, and windy days are most likely to cause allergic symptoms. Rainy and cool days do not allow pollen to spread as easily.

What are the Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis involves the body’s attempt to fight off a substance it considers an invader. The symptoms of the body’s defense against allergens include the following discomforts:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sinus pain or pressure

Most people with allergic rhinitis feel generally unwell and run down. The symptoms are similar to a cold, although fevers and coughs are not common.

How is Fibromyalgia Related to Allergic Rhinitis?

Though there isn’t much science to prove a direct link between fibromyalgia and allergic rhinitis, many people suffer from both conditions. And it’s very likely that there is some type of connection between the two because they both seem like types of the body’s defense mechanisms. One theory is that fibromyalgia includes changes to the nerves that produce more extreme reactions to otherwise normal sensations. The nerves may “misfire” and overreact to allergens or pain.

It is also possible that fibromyalgia causes muscle tightness, putting more pressure on the entire body, including the nasal passages. This pressure from tight muscles could possibly cause sinus pain. Many people with fibro unconsciously hold their bodies in such a way as to brace themselves against pain. But these tense postures can cause pain in other parts of the body. The whole body is more connected than many people realize.

How to Manage the Overlapping Symptoms

Even if fibromyalgia and allergic rhinitis have separate causes, many people suffer from both. Just one of the conditions can be uncomfortable and unpleasant on their own. But dealing with both at the same time can intensify your misery. However, you can take some concrete actions to try to get some relief. Try these tips for managing your discomfort if you have both allergic reactions and fibromyalgia:

  • Keep a log or diary of your symptoms. In your notes, keep track of factors like foods you ate, the weather, or where you were.
  • Try using non-medical interventions to limit allergic reactions, including the use of a sinus rinse (also called a neti pot.) This washes allergens out of your nasal passages, making an allergic rhinitis reaction less likely to occur.
  • Consider using heat to relieve pain. Heating pads can reduce pain in your body. But heating pads may also alleviate sinus pain if you place the heat over your sinuses.
  • Avoid drinks and foods that are more likely to cause inflammation, such as spicy or fried foods. Choose soothing, anti-inflammatory foods and drinks, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
  • Drink lots of pure, clean water. Many people are at least slightly dehydrated, which can increase your pain levels. Even drinking the appropriate amount of water can help you feel significantly better.
  • Consider adding vitamin supplements like magnesium or herbs like turmeric, which can reduce pain. Ask your doctor about supplements to make sure they don’t interact negatively with any medications you may be taking.