There are numerous symptoms of fibromyalgia, and range from simple discomforts such as achy feet to complex symptoms such as depression. The symptoms also vary in severity – not only from person to person, but from day to day. One aggravating symptom is sensory sensitivities. Many people do not know it, but sensory overload and fibromyalgia are connected.
[bctt tweet=”#Sensory sensitivities are connected to #fibromyalgia #BeingFibroMom #FibroSenses”]
My experience with sensitive senses
dislike hate loud noises such as outbursts, squealing, screaming, large crowds, etc. Anyone that knows me can you tell you that. And when I make the statement, “I cannot stand loud noises; I do not have the patience or ears for it” I usually get a baffled look from the other person.
Certain tastes (like eggs, yuck!) are also a nuisance to me. And if there is an odor within a mile radius of where I’m standing, I can smell it. Some lights cause headaches and other lights are just annoying.
I know – I have four kids. Suck it up. But that’s not it.
It’s more than just not being able to tolerate certain noise volumes, tastes, touch, bright lights, and particular smells . It’s the feeling I get when I’m surrounded by it.
My anxiety rises.
My blood pressure goes up a bit.
I start to shut down physically, emotionally, and mentally.
And aside from all that – it literally hurts my ears.
The connection between senses and fibromyalgia
It’s not a choice to hate loud noises, certain tastes, smells, or lights. It’s one of many symptoms of living with fibromyalgia – sensory overload. Sensory overload and fibromyalgia are connected. Sensory overload is when your senses become overwhelmed. And adults aren’t the only ones living with it. Kids are, too!
Research conducted by Dr. Daniel Clauw, director of the University of Michigan’s fibromyalgia research center, reported that
just as your pain signals are amplified in fibromyalgia, so are all of your other sensory inputs for touch, sight, sound, and smell.*
[bctt tweet=”Pain signals and other other sensory inputs are amplified with #fibromyalgia”]
And, as Michael Geisser, Ph.D. has discovered, the sensory overload is directly linked to increased levels of pain, increased number of physical symptoms, and decreased functional capacity.
In other words, the more your sensory symptoms become amplified, the worse your fibromyalgia will become.*
Sensory sensitivities include all the senses:
- bright lights
Great! If it’s not annoying enough to live with this condition every day for the rest of my life, now this little sensitivity causes the condition to worsen. And, yes, I have all the sensory sensitivities; however, I was not aware they were caused by my fibromyalgia until the drafting of this post.
How to deal with sensory overload
Writing this article helped me to understand my sensitivity to sound, light, taste, touch and smell. Sometimes I feel like a bad mom because of the noise sensitivity, even though it’s out of my control. The best way I can deal with it is by:
- explaining to my family, especially my kids, what sensory sensitivity is and how it affects me.
- explain to my kids how we, together, can improve the sound sensitivity.
- avoiding, or quickly escaping, loud situations that I cannot control, i.e. in public, in another person’s home.
- help loved ones with sensory overload enjoy shopping
Gadgets to help with loud noises
There are also cool gadgets to help lessen the pain of loud noises.
Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post, but these are products I recommend and have verified and/or used.
For example, these easy to carry, reusable, high fidelity hearing plugs from Amazon:
I love my kids, and I know that all those loud noises come with the territory, but that does not change my sensitivity to it, unfortunately.
There have been times that the screaming and/or crying have been so aggravating and ear piercing that all I could do was laugh. Laughing and thinking, “How did it get to this point?!”
Case in point: Abby and the Popsicle Fiasco.
Abby and the Popsicle Fiasco
My sister and her son were visiting us last summer, and we took the kids swimming in the river at the bottom of the mountain we lived on. It was extremely hot, so we gave the kids popsicles when we got home. The older kids went outside with their treats, but Abby did this instead (video). Apparently, Abby did not want a green Popsicle, but wanted the blue popsicle instead. We did not know that until it was revealed after the tantrum was over. Typical toddler, huh? I still laugh when I watch this video!