Diabetes type 1 is a serious condition that makes life difficult for the people who suffer from it. And to make matters worse, it can also interact with another chronic condition, fibromyalgia, in a very negative way. So understanding what causes both conditions and the way they affect each other is vital if you’re suffering from both conditions.
And many people do suffer from both conditions. Not only that, but having diabetes type 1 actually seems to make it more likely that you’ll develop fibromyalgia at some point. But taking the right steps can still reduce that risk. So what exactly are diabetes type 1 and fibromyalgia? How do they affect each other? And what can you do about it?
Diabetes Type 1 and Fibromyalgia
Diabetes is a condition caused by the body not using glucose properly. When you eat food, some of it is converted into glucose, which your cells then use for energy. But to convert glucose into energy, your body needs insulin, which is a chemical produced in your pancreas. When you have diabetes type 1, your pancreas produces insulin, but the immune system quickly destroys it along with the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, reducing the amount of insulin it produces over time. And so the glucose builds up in your blood instead of being converted into energy. This overabundance of gluten leads to a number of health problems like cardiovascular problems, kidney disease, and nerve pain.
On the other hand, no one knows what causes fibromyalgia, but the effects are very real. Fibromyalgia causes constant pain at specific points around the body. In addition, Fibromyalgia also leads to chronic fatigue which can make handling daily tasks difficult. And compounding that problem is the mental confusion that often accompanies fibromyalgia, which is often called “fibro fog.” Fibro fog causes people to have a hard time remembering basic details like names or where they left something.
How do They Affect Each Other
We can’t say that diabetes type 1 causes fibromyalgia since many people with fibromyalgia never suffer from diabetes. But there is some evidence that suggests that having diabetes influences your risk of developing fibromyalgia. Studies show that carefully controlling insulin levels in people with diabetes type 1 makes them less likely to develop fibromyalgia. And they also show that people with diabetes type 1 are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than people with diabetes type 2.
That’s particularly interesting because of the fact that diabetes type 1 is essentially an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system begins attacking its own cells. People have long speculated that the immune system also plays a role in fibromyalgia, though the research on the subject has been mixed. But the fact that people with fibromyalgia often develop other autoimmune conditions like lupus or Sjogren’s syndrome suggests that there is at least some interaction between fibromyalgia and the immune system.
And regardless of whether or not there’s a causal link between the two conditions, diabetes type 1 can often make your fibromyalgia symptoms worse. High blood sugar, which is caused by a lack of insulin, has been shown to increase the severity of a wide range of fibromyalgia symptoms like fatigue, headaches, the number of tender points, and insomnia.
What can you do About it?
Of course, that all means that if you have diabetes type 1, you can avoid many of these complications by carefully managing your blood sugar. The first step to managing your blood sugar is to administer insulin properly.
Unlike diabetes type 2, where the body still produces some insulin, diabetes type 1 means your body produces no insulin, so you’ll have to administer artificial insulin daily. Your doctor can help you determine how much insulin you need, but you have to carefully monitor it throughout the day with regular blood glucose testing. Doctors recommend that you keep a log of these results so that your health care professionals can judge how well your body is responding to your diabetes treatments and adjust your insulin levels accordingly.
In addition to medication, nutrition is a big part of managing your blood sugar. Eat healthy foods along with a balanced diet. Certain foods affect your blood sugar levels more than others, so knowing how different food affects you is important. Keeping a log of what you eat and how it affects your blood sugar is a useful way to learn more about your diet as well.
Finally, regular exercise helps your body maintain a steady blood sugar level along with all the physical benefits it provides. And exercise is often beneficial for fibromyalgia as well, so if you do have both conditions, regular exercise can help kill two birds with one stone.
So let us know, how does your diabetes affect your fibromyalgia? What works for you in terms of management? Tell us in the comments.