My allergies have been a nightmare lately. I figured that was partly the fault of the climate I live in, but my allergies have been worse than ever this year. Luckily for me when my allergies are bad my sinuses are also bad so I’ve had the distinction of having a sinus infection that won’t respond to medication for about two months I have been absolutely miserable and per the usual doctors can’t figure out why.
This experience got me wondering if Fibromyalgia and allergies have any relationship and it turns out they do. The incidence of allergies is about 4-5 % higher in those that have fibromyalgia.* No one knows for sure why this is the case but one theory is that it’s part of the central sensitization or how our body magnifies pain signals.
Non- allergy rhinitis
Another belief is that because of the pain associated with Fibromyalgia, tight muscles can press on fluid passages in the nose and narrow them causing a backup in the sinuses. This results in a postnasal drip which occurs even though the nose itself may be dry. This drainage can in turn cause a chronic hacking cough or raw, angry throat that can be mistaken for a cold or allergy.The medical term for this is non-allergy rhinitis and it cannot be fixed by a histamine because there is no immune reaction in the body.
The symptoms for non-allergy rhinitis are the usual suspects:
– chronic cough
– runny nose
– sinus headache
– itchy watery eyes
– post-nasal drip
– constant sneezing.
Another possible cause for these symtoms is TMJ (temporomandibular joints disorder), which many Fibromyalgia patients live with. If the muscles around the jaw develop trigger points this can also cause sinus symptoms.
I think non- allergy rhinitis may be part of the problem I have with “allergies” and why mine don’t seem to respond to medicine very well. So lucky us, another problem that Fibromyalgia can potentially cause. The really frustrating part is that there is little to no treatment suggested for dealing with these problems. Nasal decongestants are not meant to be used long term so they are unhelpful in dealing these symptoms. Saline spray used on a daily basis can help with your nose, but those have not really been effective for me personally. It seems like this is just another thing that people with Fibromyalgia have to live with. However, I am glad to know that it wasn’t all in my head, my sinuses really are completely screwed up, much like the rest of my body.
* Chronic rhinitis: an underrecognized association with fibromyalgia
* Shankland W with J Boyd and D Starlanyl. Face the Pain: The Challenges of Facial Pain, Columbus (OH): AOmega Publishing Co., p.149.