I have a nasty cold. And so do others in the household. My sister-in-law had to go to the ER and did the COVID test. She does not have it. She does have pneumonia though and severe asthma. So good no COVID, bad that it is pneumonia. I have the same cold because I catch everything. And it is also in my chest and pissing off my asthma. But I doubt it will get that bad for me. But it might Linger, as they tend to with me.
Fact is, this is like the 4th cold I have had within about that many months. I did get my flu shot, thankfully. I have not been leaving the house at all really and when I do I wear a mask. Still, catch colds. It is quite amazing that my immune system can manage that. When I worked in customer service, well, I caught everything that was going around. And I was always sick for longer and worse than everyone else.
And that is the thing with fibromyalgia. I seem to catch everything with extreme ease and it seems to always last longer than it should. I have always said my immune system is ‘fatigued’ as in just dampened from the fibromyalgia issues.
Some factors with our poor immune system are pretty obvious to me right of the get go
- Mental and physical stress that is chronic. Chronic stress is not so great for a healthy immune system.
- Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation. Also not so awesome for a healthy immune system.
- There is just the fact that a body in pain with fatigue seems not to have the oomph to fight things off.
Is there anything particular to fibro though that makes our immune system so crappy?
Cytokines and fibromyalgia
Cytokines are basically a response to infections in the body and are released by white blood cells. When the infection is gone and there is no longer any stressor on the body then they should diminish. Some research suggests we have lower amounts in our body which means the response to stresses and infection is not as boisterous. It might as be one factor in our pain but again a lot of research needs to be done.
A recent German study examined the cytokine protein profiles of 40 patients with chronic widespread pain, 26 of whom had fibromyalgia. The study found that the patients with chronic widespread pain had significantly lower levels of two types of cytokines, IL-4 and IL-10 than individuals who do not, suggesting a link between low levels of cytokine proteins and fibromyalgia syndrome.Source
But, that isn’t the whole story because actually we have higher levels of Other cytokines. So… there is that. And that causes inflammation.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can reflect an improperly functioning immune system. Many researchers feel that chronic inflammation along with an altered immune system may either be the cause or contribute to fibromyalgiaProhealth
While the latest research published found some fibromyalgia patients had excessive cytokines, the results are considered preliminary only because of the small number of patients studied. Dr. Daniel Wallace headed up an investigation in Los Angeles discovering that patients sick for over two years were more likely to have high cytokines levels. Although the researchers found altered cytokine production in early-stage fibromyalgia, the cytokines were seen to increase with the duration of the sickness. The authors of this work, published in the July 2001 issue of the journal Rheumatology, conclude that their results underscore “the argument for earlier, aggressive intervention to prevent a chronic pattern from developing.”Prohealth
A study in 2015 found:
- Pro-inflammatory levels of cytokines IL-1RA, IL-6 and IL-8 are increased and anti-inflammatory cytokines decreased in fibromyalgia.
- Chemokines are also found to be increased in fibromyalgia patients.
- The alteration in chemokines’ levels may account for the central sensitization in these patients.
Current evidence suggests that cytokines and especially chemokines may have a role in the pathogenesis of this syndrome. Cytokines are small soluble factors that work as immune system messengers. They can be classified as pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Chemokines are a special kind of pro-inflammatory cytokines that guide the movement of circulating mononuclear cells to the injured side. Some pro-inflammatory cytokine levels (i.e. IL-1RA, IL-6, and IL-8) and, recently, some chemokines’ levels have been found to be increased in patients with fibromyalgia.Study
We would have to see some current and large studies to know what this means for fibromyalgia overall let alone our immune system functioning. However, it may be a factor to why we seem to have such a shoddy immune system.
What about autoimmunity and fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is not considered an autoimmune condition. However, some research has found some indications it could be. It is too early to say.
- “Two autoantibodies, the anti-68/48 kD and the anti-45 kD, have been considered to be the possible markers for certain clinical subtypes of primary fibromyalgia”
- Thyroid autoimmunity- “Patients with fibromyalgia tend to have higher levels of TPO antibodies (antithyroid peroxidase). There is no significant rise of thyroglobulin antibodies (antithyroglobulin). Presence of thyroid autoimmunity in fibromyalgia has been found to be associated with a concomitant presence of migraine and tension headaches.”
- Antipolymer antibody levels- “Studies have shown that 30% of fibromyalgia patients are positive for antinuclear antibody and there is 75% preponderance for the speckled pattern. Studies have shown that fibromyalgia patients have higher serum levels of soluble factors that are released in response to substance P. Normally interleukin-8 promotes sympathetic pain and IL-6 induces fatigue, depression and hyperalgesia or increased pain perception.”
Nevertheless, there is no conclusive research to say we Do have an autoimmune condition.
So, really, they do not know a whole lot about fibromyalgia and our immune system. We do not know if it is directly impaired or how. We do not know we have an autoimmune disorder or what sort, if at all. There is a lot of research going on with these but it takes time.
We just know that our immune system seems to just not be that awesome. We just seem to catch everything. We just seem to have a hard time fighting things off. Again it could simply be factors related to stresses on the body due to pain and fatigue. And the fact we have poor quality sleep if not sleep deprivation.
Some quick tips to boost the immune system
- Manage your insomnia and sleep issues. Good sleep is vital.
- Eat more fermented foods or take a probiotic “Research suggests that a flourishing network of gut bacteria can help your immune cells differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful invader organisms” Healthline
- Supplements like D, C and Zinc
- Moderate exercise regularly
- Manage stress with such things as meditation
- Green tea is a great tea to drink it contains antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties. It works as an antifungal and antivirus agent. And it is yummy!