5 posts tagged “chronic”

Coming together for immunological and neurological health in May

Posted May 12th, 2015 by

If you follow PatientsLikeMe on social media, you might have seen a few “Pop Quiz Tuesday” posts. Today, here’s a special pop quiz – what do fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have in common?

The answer is that they are classified as Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CINDs). And since 1992, every May 12th has been recognized as International Awareness Day for CINDs. Today, in conjunction with Fibromyalgia Awareness Month, it’s time to recognize everyone living with a CIND.

While fibromyalgia and ME/CFS are both CINDs, each is a little different. Check out some quick facts about each condition:

Fibromyalgia1

  • Affects 5 million Americans over the age of 18, and the majority are women
  • The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown
  • Common symptoms include insomnia, headaches, pain and tingling in the hands and feet

ME/CFS2

  • Affects between 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans
  • The large majority of people living with ME/CFS have not been diagnosed
  • There are five main symptoms of ME/CFS, as opposed to the more general symptoms of fibromyalgia:
    • Profound fatigue that impairs carrying out normal daily activities
    • Unrefreshing sleep
    • Cognitive impairment
    • Symptoms that worsen when a person stands up
    • Symptoms that worsen after exerting any type (emotional, physical) effort

But sometimes, living with a CIND can be hard to describe. Check out this short video to get an idea of the invisible symptoms of ME/CFS.

Today, you can share your support for fibromyalgia and ME/CFS on social media through the #May12th, #Fibromyalgia and #MECFS hashtags. If you have a chance, you should incorporate the color blue into your activities, anything from changing the background on your Facebook to shining a blue light on your house at nighttime.

And if you’ve been diagnosed with a CIND, join the community at PatientsLikeMe. The fibromyalgia community is one of the largest on the site – over 59,000 people are sharing their experiences, along with more than 11,000 living with ME/CFS.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word for CINDs.


1 http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia_ff.asp

2 https://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2015/MECFS/MECFS_KeyFacts.pdf


PatientsLikeMe member Tam builds first-ever ‘by patients, for patients’ health measure on the Open Research Exchange

Posted January 21st, 2015 by

Back in March last year, we shared on the blog about a new grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that would help support two patient-led projects on our Open Research Exchange (ORE) , a platform that brings patients and researchers together to develop the most effective tools for measuring disease. We were overwhelmed by the response from the community, and we’re excited to share that one of those projects is very close to being completed.

Tam is living with multiple sclerosis (MS), and she’s been a PatientsLikeMe member for more than 4 years. After her diagnosis and experiences with her doctors not “getting” what pain means to her, Tam decided to create a new tool for anyone who might be experiencing chronic pain. Her idea is to build a measure that can help doctors better understand and communicate with patients about pain.

Watch her video above to learn about her journey and listen to her explain her inspiration behind the new ORE project.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word for MS and chronic pain.


“I continue to be inspired by those who share this fight with me” – PatientsLikeMe member Doug shares his journey with HP

Posted January 9th, 2015 by

Meet Doug. He’s part of the pulmonary fibrosis (PF) community on PatientsLikeMe and is living with a condition specifically known as chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP). It’s similar to other types of PF, but also has its differences. We caught up with Doug for an interview to help spread the knowledge about these two conditions, but learned so much more. He shared what it’s like to live with HP, how he uses PatientsLikeMe to learn more about his own health and how the community has helped him to stay inspired in his fight.

Can you share a bit about your chronic HP? Can you explain to our blog followers how it’s different than IPF?

I believe the major difference is that with hypersensitivity pneumonitis there is a cause. If I’m correct there are three forms: acute, subacute and chronic. All are caused by exposure to an antigen that may or may not be identified. In my case, I have chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP). My specialists have determined that it’s not necessary to identify the antigen since my condition is chronic and cannot be reversed.1

What was your diagnosis process like, and how was it different than what you’ve heard about getting diagnosed with IPF?

Of course I can’t compare how it ”feels” to have HP vs. IPF, and I’m no expert, but I will give you my version of the difference between HP and IPF. First, both are forms of pulmonary fibrosis. With HP, the fibrosis forms primarily higher up in the lungs, and IPF forms in the lower part of the lungs. Air trapping occurs in cHP but not in IPF. I have no idea how this impacts me as a patient, but I’ve included a comparison from Dr. Jeff Swigris.

Apparently another difference is that HP fibrosis is caused by inflammation, whereas IPF is caused by different forms of pro-fibrotic influences. Generally speaking, specialists recommend an anti-inflammatory drug (prednisone) and/or an immunosuppressive such as azathioprine, mycophenolate, cyclosporine, or cyclophosophamide. In my case, my doctor and I agreed on a course of mycophenolate. Initially, it had significant side effects, such as severe fatigue, poor sleep, weight gain and depression. I switched to Myfortic, which is a different brand of mycophenolate, and now the side effects are minimal. I have much more drive and I feel much better! It’s still too early to tell if it will help. My concern is that my pulmonary function test (PFT) results have dropped in the last four months, so I’m concerned that I’m deteriorating. At the moment, I function almost normally. I have a walking routine that includes a 7.5 K walk, which I can complete in an hour. I now require supplemental oxygen for long flights, but I still consider myself lucky!2

You frequently use the InstantMe and Quality of Life tools on PatientsLikeMe – why do you like to use these to donate your data?

I find it’s good to have a record of your health pattern. This can include how you feel daily as well as a record of the medications I’m on. I print out portions of this for my doctors’ appointments and it helps me be well prepared.

How have others in the HP and IPF communities on PatientsLikeMe helped support you on your journey?

My biggest concern is that HP is the “poor cousin” in the PF family! There are very few of us online and therefore it’s difficult to learn as much as I’d like to! Nevertheless, I have learned a lot about shared aspects of PF such as patient care, oxygen therapy and lifestyle issues. I continue to be inspired by those who share this fight with me and I’m always grateful when I’m able to learn something that will help me.

I’ve always told my wife I plan to die of old age! One of my strengths is that I have a great attitude. Participating in platforms like PatientsLikeMe helps me not only learn more, but it fortifies my attitude!

Many people may not know about rare conditions like HP and IPF. If there was one thing you thought someone who doesn’t have a clue should know about HP, what would it be?

That’s a tough question because there is so much more I need to learn before I feel I can address this question. I suppose the key with HP is that if you have developed acute or subacute forms of the disease you may be able to arrest the fibrosis before it progresses too far.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word for HP and pulmonary fibrosis.


1 http://nationaljewish.org/Participation-Program-for-Pulmonary-Fibrosis/Community/Blog/Participation-Program-for-Pulmonary-Fibrosis/November-2013/What-is-Chronic-Hypersensitivity-Pneumonitis

2 http://nationaljewish.org/Participation-Program-for-Pulmonary-Fibrosis/Community/Blog/Participation-Program-for-Pulmonary-Fibrosis/November-2013/Some-of-the-nuance-about-cHP


Turning blue for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Awareness

Posted May 12th, 2014 by

Did you know that today is International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CINDs)? CINDs include fibromyalgia, Gulf War Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Lyme disease and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (also know as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME/CFS).

ME/CFS is tough to diagnose because there are no tests for it, and other conditions can cause very similar symptoms. Plus, no one knows exactly what causes ME/CFS, and although it is most common in women in their 40s and 50s, it can occur in both genders at any age.1

So why blue? May12.org is encouraging all advocates to turn a part of their body blue for ME/CFS awareness – you can dye your hair (or wear a wig), paint your nails and even Photoshop yourself. Or, just wear a blue t-shirt 🙂 Check out their Facebook page and their website for more information on ME/CFS awareness, and don’t forget to submit your blue photos!

If you’re looking for more resources on ME/CFS, PatientsLikeMe member Jen has been working on a film called “Canary in a Coal Mine,” that we shared about on the blog back in October. The film is currently in production after a successful Kickstarter campaign, but you can still check out the official website and the video below to learn how you can help change the face of ME/CFS.

 

On PatientsLikeMe, more than 10,000 people are living with ME/CFS, and they’re sharing their health data by tracking symptoms and evaluating treatments. If you’ve been experiencing ME/CFS, connect with others like you in the fibromyalgia and ME/CFS forum and speak with the people who know what you’re going through firsthand.

 Share this post on twitter and help spread the word for ME/CFS Awareness Day.


1 http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/chronicfatiguesyndrome.html


Making fibromyalgia visible this May

Posted May 7th, 2014 by

The National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association (NfmCPA) is recognizing Fibromyalgia Awareness Month with an awesome theme – “C.A.R.E. & Make Fibromyalgia Visible.” C.A.R.E. stands for Contribute, Advocate, participate in Research, and Educate others about fibromyalgia, and that’s exactly what’s going on throughout May.

Fibromyalgia (commonly shortened to “fibro”) causes widespread body pain or aching muscles – myalgia – that can be localized to specific areas called tender points. Other symptoms include tingling, numbness, fatigue and sleep disturbances.1 In most cases, fibromyalgia is limited to women, but men and children can also be affected – it’s estimated that 3% to 6% of the world’s population has the condition, and about 1 in 50 Americans are living with fibro at any given time.2 3

So how can you help raise awareness for fibromyalgia in May?

The fibro community on PatientsLikeMe is one of the largest on the site, and it’s growing by the day – this time last year, there were about 30,000 in the community, and now, it’s more than 42,000 strong! They’re donating their data through personalized health profiles and sharing their stories in the forum to help others with fibromyalgia.

The cause of fibromyalgia is not fully understood,1 and if you’ve been diagnosed, no one understands what it’s like better than you – connect with others living with fibro today and start sharing your experiences for Fibromyalgia Awareness Month.

PatientsLikeMe is the most empowering place I could ever imagine, giving us all not just information, but courage enough to be proactive rather than sit back and hope the doctor is doing the right thing…” – Fibro member Lizupatree

 

 

 Share this post on twitter and help spread the word for Fibromyalgia Awareness Month.


1 http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm

2 http://fmaware.org/site/PageServera6cc.html?pagename=fibromyalgia_affected

3 http://www.myfibro.com/fibromyalgia-statistics