Part of the difficulty of living with fibromyalgia is that there are many things we simply do not know about the condition. There is no cure, and the usual methods doctors use to treat it just do not work for some people. And as always, when the source of a medical condition is a mystery, people tend to fill in the gaps with some strange theories.
For example, you may have heard that fibromyalgia is actually caused by intestinal parasites. It’s usually something you hear on websites that specialize in alternative medicine or maybe even a friend with the disease who swears that a parasitic infection was contributing to your fibromyalgia.
Of course, what fibromyalgia is that nobody knows what causes it. And as we learn more about the condition, we sometimes discover that things that seem unlikely actually play a role. So, do parasites really cause fibromyalgia? Let’s look at the evidence we have.
The first and most obvious question we must ask when dealing with this theory is: “What kind of parasites are we talking about?” There is a wide range of different parasitic species that can infect humans and all can have a different effect on the body . But, basically, there are two different 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 giardia. But they can also lead to more exotic infections such as leishmaniasis , which leads to 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 digestive system and begin to reproduce. If you have ever had a tape or hookworm infection, you have treated with helminths.
A lot of different parasites can cause symptoms similar to fibromyalgia. Tapeworm infections can cause abdominal pain and muscle weakness , which are common among people with fibromyalgia. But these larger parasites are usually easy to detect with medical tests. Then they do not fit at all with a parasite that mimics the symptoms of fibromyalgia without being noticed.
Certain protozoan infections can also cause abdominal problems and fatigue. But they tend to be relatively short-lived infections, which would not explain why the symptoms of fibromyalgia last for decades.
So, is there any chance that the parasites can really cause or contribute to fibromyalgia?
Intestinal parasites and fibromyalgia
First, let’s address the idea that fibromyalgia itself is caused by parasites. Obviously, it’s not something that doctors have spent a lot of time researching. So, really, there is not much hard evidence in one way or another. But if we look closely at the condition, you will see that the chances of this being the case are extremely long.
For starters, suppose that fibromyalgia is actually caused by a parasite.
According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, 3-6% of the world’s population may have fibromyalgia . And if fibromyalgia was caused by parasites, then all people with fibromyalgia would have to be infected.
Unlike fibromyalgia, which has no obvious symptoms, parasites can be examined with microscopes. That means that doctors, who tend to be a methodical group, are losing millions of cases of parasitic infections. Obviously, this is not impossible. But it seems unlikely.
Second, the infection would have to 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 so that doctors can often detect the condition they suffer with the help of some basic tests.
Now, there is a more likely scenario that could link parasitic infections and fibromyalgia. Many people seem to develop fibromyalgia after injury infections. It could be that some types of infections can make the immune system hypersensitive. This immune sensitivity could contribute to the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
If it is true, then it is easy to see how a parasitic infection could have the same effect. But even if parasitic infections can contribute to fibromyalgia, treating the condition is probably not as simple as getting rid of the parasites.
Fibromyalgia is a complex condition that seems to be caused by a number of different factors. There are few studies, if any, on the relationship between parasitic infections and fibromyalgia. If parasitic infections have a link, then it is probably as a type of contributory trigger rather than a direct cause.
But if you’re worried about being infected, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor. They will be able to detect infection and provide good advice.
So what do you think? Is there a link between parasites and fibromyalgia? Let us know in the comments.