Living with Fibromyalgia

Reading time: 4 min
Cigarette crossed out on a "no smoking" poster

Tobacco. Several studies into the association between fibromyalgia and tobacco have concluded that, to some extent, smoking can have an influence on the pain and other symptoms (stiffness, physical disability, and depression). It is unknown whether smoking implies a greater risk of developing fibromyalgia.

Two beer mugs crossed out indicating that alcohol is forbidden.

Alcohol and caffeine. The same is true of caffeine and excessive alcohol, which may also interfere with the patient’s medication and other therapies (iontophoresis, TENS, etc.) as well as affecting other symptoms such as sleep disorders, obesity, and so on.

Scale with a correct weight

Overweight. Overweight is a risk factor for worsening the disease.

Food pyramid

Diet. There is no evidence of a direct relationship between fibromyalgia and diet; furthermore, at present, there is not enough scientific data to establish specific dietary recommendations.

Flask and alternative therapies

Dietary supplements. There is no consensus regarding dietary supplements and antioxidants. Unless the healthcare team diagnose a specific deficiency of a nutrient (e.g., iron in cases of anaemia), there is no need to take a dietary supplement to treat fibromyalgia.

Woman doing exercise

Exercise. People with fibromyalgia tend to take part in physical activity on an irregular and inconsistent basis. Some patients perform no or very low levels of physical activity, while others do too much. This is because of the level of pain and fatigue each patient suffers at any given time.

Person sleeping in a bed

Sleep. The pain can reduce quality of sleep, but sleep disorders can also worsen the pain. Too much daytime rest can reduce the feeling of waking up refreshed. It is important to sleep well, but it is not essential for maintaining an adequate level of activity. To improve the quality of sleep, patients must establish a suitable routine and increase their activity levels.

Symbol of man and woman

Sex. Several studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia have less desire, less excitation, more pain, fewer orgasms, and therefore less sexual activity than the general population. Patients are also known to have a worse perception of body image and therefore the intensity of the pain, overweight, and emotional state are factors that can have a clear influence on sexual relationships. Specialised healthcare professionals can provide either general or more specific indications such as psychological treatment, drug therapy and/or physiotherapy.

Travelling by plane

Travel. Travelling is not contraindicated, rather it is recommended; travelling can be a good form of medicine that helps manage the illness in environments and situations other than habitual ones. It is essential to prepare for the journey correctly.

Two women hugging or kissing

Social and emotional support. People close to patients with fibromyalgia play an important role in the condition; their understanding and support are vital to help improve their situation.

Substantiated information by:

Ana Arias Gassol
Antonio Collado Cruz
José Pérez Ruiz
Xavier Torres Mata
Ángel Fernández López

Published: 28 December 2018
Updated: 28 December 2018

The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.


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