Part of the problem with living with fibromyalgia is that there are many things that we simply do not know about the disease. There is no cure, and the usual methods used by doctors to treat it simply do not work for some people. And as always, when the source of a medical problem is a mystery, people tend to fill the gaps with strange theories.
For example, you may have heard that fibromyalgia is actually caused by intestinal parasites. This is usually something you hear on alternative medicine websites or perhaps even a friend with the disease who swears that a parasitic infection contributes to your fibromyalgia.
Of course, what fibromyalgia is that no one knows what causes it. And as we learn more about the disease, we sometimes discover that things that seem unlikely play a role. So, do parasites really cause fibromyalgia? Let’s look at the evidence we have.
The first and most obvious question that we must ask ourselves when we are dealing with this theory is: “What kind of parasites are we talking about?” There is a wide range of parasitic species that can infect humans and all to have a different effect on the body. But, basically, there are two types of intestinal parasites that affect humans.
First, there are protozoa, which are microscopic unicellular organisms that can reproduce in the human body. Protozoa are generally responsible for relatively common diseases in the digestive tract, such as giardiasis. But they can also lead to more exotic infections such as leishmaniasis, which causes ulcers on the skin and can damage internal organs.
Then there are helminths, which are larger parasitic worms. These parasites usually enter the body through the skin or the digestive system and start to reproduce. If you have ever had a tape or hookworm infection, you have been treated with helminths.
Many different parasites can cause symptoms similar to fibromyalgia. Tapeworm infections can cause abdominal pain and muscle weakness, which is common in people with fibromyalgia. But these larger parasites are usually easy to detect with medical tests. Then they do not go at all with a parasite that mimics the symptoms of fibromyalgia without getting noticed.
Some protozoan infections can also cause abdominal problems and fatigue. But these are usually short-term infections, which would not explain why the symptoms of fibromyalgia last for decades.
So, is there a chance that parasites can actually cause fibromyalgia or contribute to it?
Intestinal parasites and fibromyalgia
Let’s start with the idea that fibromyalgia is itself caused by parasites. Obviously, doctors did not spend a lot of time on research. So, really, there is not a lot of solid evidence in one way or another. But if we examine the situation closely, you will see that the chances of it being so are extremely long.
For starters, let’s assume that fibromyalgia is actually caused by a parasite.
According to the National Association of Fibromyalgia, 3 to 6% of the world’s population may have fibromyalgia. And if fibromyalgia was caused by parasites, then all people with fibromyalgia should be infected.
Unlike fibromyalgia, which has no obvious symptoms, parasites can be examined using microscopes. This means that doctors, who tend to be a methodical group, are losing millions of cases of parasitic infections. Obviously, it’s not impossible. But that seems unlikely.
Second, the infection should produce the exact symptoms of fibromyalgia. And while many parasitic infections can produce similar symptoms, the difference between the symptoms of known parasitic infections and those of fibromyalgia is important enough that doctors can often detect the disease they suffer with based.
Now, there is a more likely scenario that could involve parasitic infections and fibromyalgia. Many people seem to develop fibromyalgia after an infection. Some types of infections can make the immune system hypersensitive. This immune sensitivity could contribute to the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
If that’s true, then it’s easy to see how a parasitic infection could have the same effect. But even though parasitic infections can contribute to fibromyalgia, treating this condition is probably not as easy as getting rid of parasites.
Fibromyalgia is a complex condition that seems to be caused by a number of different factors. There are few, if any, studies on the relationship between parasitic infections and fibromyalgia. If parasitic infections are related, it is probably a type of contributory trigger rather than a direct cause.
But if you are worried about getting infected, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. They will be able to detect the infection and provide good advice.
So, what do you think? Is there a link between parasites and fibromyalgia? Let us know in the comments.