Sensory deprivation tank float centers are popping up all over the United States and Europe, especially in urban areas where the demand for holistic healing surges. According to annual official Float Tank Industry reports, the U.S. was home to more than 300 float centers in 2015, up from about 85 in 2011, and the trend continues to grow.
Whether referred to as sensory deprivation tanks, float tanks or simply as “floating,” deprivation therapy treatments have earned a reputation for naturally easing many ailments.
Floaters report sensory deprivation tank benefits that include reduced insomnia, anxiety and depression, plus relief from chronic pain and even addictions. The beauty in all of this: These reported benefits are possible without a doctor’s visit, breaking a sweat or filling any prescriptions.
What Is a Sensory Deprivation Tank?Sensory deprivation is achieved through floating in a type of isolation tank that cuts off all sources of sensory experience: sound, sight, smell and touch.
Another way that floating is referred to in research studies is “restricted environmental stimulation technique,” or floating-REST.
What does floating in a deprivation tank do — or feel like? Proponents of floating told the the New York Times that a session can make you practically feel like an astronaut, saying “it’s something you can never experience otherwise.”
Float tanks (or sensory deprivation chambers) that are used for inducing sensory deprivation are filled with water that is almost the exact same temperature as the floater’s body, along with high amounts of Epsom salt (made from magnesium sulphate). The salts allow you to remain restfully floating at the water’s surface in complete silence and stillness.
During the entire session, floaters generally feel light and peaceful, without needing to exert any effort to stay afloat.
What are sensory deprivation tanks used for? As you’ll learn below, the main purpose of flotation-REST is eliciting a positive effect on physiology, including lowering levels of cortisol, reducing blood pressure and promoting positive feelings of well-being.
Studies show that increased mindfulness and decreased stress during float session reduce markers of bodily distress syndrome (BDS), aka symptoms caused by chronic stress. Researchers often use the term “BDS” to describe negative physiological changes that take place when someone is under a lot of stress. These BDS signs are now tied to things like fibromyalgia symptoms, chronic fatigue syndrome and somatization disorder.
History of Floating:
Although the benefits of float tanks only recently garnered lots of buzz, they’ve actually been around since the 1950s and used in Europe on and off since the ’70s.
At the time of sensory deprivation tank creation, psychoanalytic researchers and neuroscientists used the tanks mainly to test effects on things like creativity, connection to others and concentration.
Some report that float tanks can actually bring about a “psychedelic experience.” Over the last few decades, esoteric communities promote floating as a way to promote “spiritual awakeness,” emotional breakthroughs and enhanced clarity of mind.
While these benefits are difficult to prove, research published in the Journal of Complementary & Behavioral Medicine now suggests that sensory deprivation may actually work by reducing the body’s stress response, inducing deep relaxation and quieting mental chatter.
A slew of research now shows that “floatation therapy” is an effective, noninvasive method for treating stress-related illnesses and pain, more so than a placebo or even many other methods currently used in complementary medicine.
Benefits1. More ‘Mindfulness’ and Reduced StressThe 2014 Journal of Complementary & Behavioral Medicine study mentioned above, which tested the effects of sensory deprivation on markers of quality of life in 65 adult patients as part of a cooperative health project, found a significant correlation between “altered states of consciousness during the relaxation in the flotation tank” and “mindfulness in daily life.”
Scientists randomized study participants to either a wait list control group or a flotation tank treatment group. The sensory deprivation tank group participated in a seven-week flotation program, consisting of a total of 12 float sessions.
After being tested for measures of psychological and physiological well-being — including variables like stress, energy, depression, anxiety, optimism, pain, sleep quality and mindfulness — results showed significant reductions in:
Scientists also observed improvements in general optimism, sleep quality and “mindful presence” (or awareness) during the study.
Reduced Anxiety and Depression
In 2016, researchers from the Department of Psychology at Karlstad University in Sweden tested the effects of sensory deprivation tank floating on symptoms of anxiety disorders, including general anxiety disorder (GAD), which remains one of the most challenging mental health problems to treat. Study findings showed that GAD symptomatology significantly changed for the better for the 12-session float group over a four-month period.
In fact, 37 percent of participants in the float-treatment group reached full remission from GAD symptoms at post-treatment, while the majority experienced at least some significant beneficial effects related to sleep difficulties, problems with emotional regulation and depression. All improved outcome variables at post-treatment, except for certain symptoms of depression, remained at the six-month follow-up point after the study. No negative effects surfaced in the floaters.
Improved Energy and Work Productivity
Stress-related illnesses now top the most common reasons for reduced productivity at work, employees using sick days, lost sleep and employee fatigue. Problems attributed to stress include mental fatigue (also called “brain fog“), lack of concentration, burnout syndrome, migraines or tension headaches, and digestive or gastric complaints.
Facing these daunting stats, more employers are offering complimentary floating sessions or similar approaches, like breaks for meditation, in order to keep stress levels low.
While stress reduction is a common doctor’s recommendation for patients who are already dealing with these problems, it seems to be most helpful when stress is prevented or managed before it reaches damaging levels. There’s evidence that sensory deprivation floating is now considered a cost-effective, natural and helpful stress-preventative method for decreasing potential sick-leave absences and increasing general well-being in the workplace.
Several studies, as well as patient testimonials, suggest float tanks could serve as natural painkillers. The primary way that floating helps ease pain is through evoking a relaxation response, which eases tense muscles and helps improve rest and recovery.
One study examining the effects of placebo treatments versus flotation tank therapy found that floating sessions reduced stress-related muscular pain in patients diagnosed with “burnout depression.”
The patients treated with this flotation-restricted environmental stimulation technique for six to 12 weeks exhibited less pain, lower blood pressure levels, less anxiety and depression, reduced feelings of stress and negativity, and increased happiness/optimism, energy and positive affectivity.
Help Overcoming Addictions
A study from the ’90s aimed at identifying the effectiveness of sensory deprivation on reducing addiction found that “REST is a versatile, cost-effective treatment modality with demonstrated effectiveness in modifying some addictive behaviors, and has promising applications with others.”
Interestingly, patients addicted to nicotine, alcohol or drugs generally saw improvements associated with refocusing the mind or rebalancing the various physical and mental effects of stress.
According to science, sensory deprivation helps patients overcome addictions by:
Research findings related to treating addictive behaviors with REST now support its use for:
The most support for floating involves smoking cessation help, while many believe more research is needed overall to recommend floating for other drug problems.
How Does It Work?
What does sensory deprivation do? Sensory deprivation tanks help induce a deep state of relaxation (also called a “relaxation response” or RR) by turning down the body’s “fight or flight” stress response.
Evoking a natural relaxation response is considered an effective remedy for stress-related symptoms because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, while at the same time decreasing activity of the sympathetic nervous system.
Essentially, floating helps lower cortisol levels and calm the nervous system, bringing the immune and hormonal systems back into balance.
Studies show that self deprivation sessions can help lower the heart rate, normalize blood pressure levels, restore a normal breathing rate (respiratory frequency) and normalize digestive functions.
In stressful or busy situations, we’re best able to induce a relaxation response by decreasing sensory input and bodily movements as much as possible. During a flotation therapy session, nearly all incoming stimuli and sensations are reduced or completely eliminated.
There is no music playing, no guided meditation or directions, and nothing else to hear besides your own breath. There are no lights — tanks are kept very dark.
Floaters don’t even feel water on the skin because it’s heated to nearly exact skin temperature.
Can you sleep in a sensory deprivation tank? While it’s possible, this is not the purpose.
Time in a sensory deprivation tank is similar to solo or guided meditation in that the mind tends to become very peaceful, allowing stress to melt away, but you remain awake.
Who Should Try Floating?
Floating enthusiasts told the New York Times that anyone looking to “stretch their artistic, spiritual and even athletic boundaries” can benefit from floating. After reviewing participants’ reports regarding floating’s effects, researchers even concluded this:
“Many of the participants had been using a range of different methods to reduce pain, stress and other individual health issues prior to floating. Medicines, yoga, massage and physiotherapy were some of the treatments mentioned, and never had they so successfully been relieved from pain, tension, stress, etc.”
Those looking for more of a scientifically supported reason to try floating will be happy to know it’s backed up by much ongoing research. Although there’s still lots to learn regarding the physiological effects of sensory deprivation, floating is believed to potentially help alleviate all sorts of stress-related problems, like:
Sensory deprivation tank costs depend on factors like the type of facility you visit, length of sessions and how many sessions you purchase.
Most one -to two-hour sessions cost anywhere from $30 to $150. Many places offer float packages, helping keep costs down in exchange for committing to a certain number of floats up front.
Sensory deprivation tank prices can be high in some states, so shop around different facilities, and ask about intro offers.
Here’s what else you can expect if you decide to try a sensory deprivation floating session:
Risks and Side Effects
Although most who try sensory deprivation tanks report really enjoying the experience with no unwanted side effects, not all do. Some facilities may lack proper sanitation, including reports of moldy tanks, off-putting smells and dirty tank water.
Depending on your personality and how well you deal with feeling isolated inside small, closed spaces, it’s also possible that you could feel even more anxious or restless during a float session. If you find it hard to stay in small spaces without feeling tense, like crowded subways or packed cars, you may not like how floating feels.
When it comes to staying healthy, I believe in prevention first. By prevention I don’t mean vaccines and screening tests. I believe in cultivating true health from the inside out by adopting healthy habits such as proper diet and exercise, an enjoyable family and social life, and a personal spiritual practice.
Yet, even healthy people sometimes get sick. And with “cold and flu season” approaching I want to share some of the best ways I know to stay healthy naturally and some natural ways you can treat symptoms so you can recover quickly if you do get sick.
10 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick
Natural Ways to Speed Recovery If You Get Sick
When I get a cold or the flu, it’s usually because I’ve been overdoing things and not getting enough quality sleep. The first thing I do if I become sleep deprived is to allow my body the time to recover. In addition to getting much-needed rest, I like to use the remedies I can find in my kitchen rather than take medicines if I don’t really need to. And you can, too. For example, the B.R.A.T. (bananas, rice, apple sauce, toast) diet is good if you are recovering from an upset stomach or diarrhea. And adding spices to your food can help ease nasal congestion. These are just a couple of ways you can feel better faster.
Here are 9 more easy ways you can recover naturally from common ailments:
Supplements to Prevent and Treat COVID-19
In addition to everything I have mentioned above, there are some specific ways you can protect your immune system to help prevent COVID-19 infection.
As I have already mentioned, optimal vitamin D levels can help prevent acute respiratory infections. This includes both influenza and COVID-19. One possible way vitamin D strengthens the immune system is by regulating cytokine production.
Keeping a healthy gut microbiome is also an important factor in preventing COVID-19 infection as well as other illnesses. A less-than-optimal gut microbiome is associated with proinflammatory cytokines that could predispose you to severe COVID-19. The good news is your gut microbiome responds quickly to what you feed it. So, changing your diet to support your gut microbiome is an easy way to improve your immunity and stave off COVID-19 and other infections. Taking a high-quality probiotic is also a good way to improve your gut microbiome.
Zinc deficiency has been associated with more severe COVID-19 illness. Zinc deficiency can be caused by malnutrition, chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, and even some medications that increase the body’s loss of zinc, such as diuretics. Taking a zinc supplement alone or in combination with a zinc ionophore (such as hydroxychloroquine) has been proven effective in both preventing and treating COVID-19, especially in the early stages. Some experts do not recommend long-term use of zinc supplements because too-high doses over a long period of time can cause copper deficiency and subsequent hematologic and neurologic issues. However, zinc supplements and nasal sprays containing 50 mg of zinc are safe for daily use, especially if you feel a cold coming on. I like Vimergy liquid zinc. I take a small amount daily and more if I am coming down with a cold. You can also get adequate levels of zinc by eating meat, shellfish, chicken, nuts, and lentils.
Another supplement that is instrumental in helping to fight off coronavirus infections is quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid that has antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. There is a large body of research showing that quercetin can help fight obesity, type 2 diabetes, circulatory dysfunction, chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, and mood disorders. It has also been found to trigger tumor regression and begin the process of apoptosis. In 2003, when the SARS epidemic broke out, research showed quercetin provided broad-spectrum protection against the SARS coronavirus. In June 2020, a study showed that quercetin interfered in multiple steps of pathogen virulence, virus entry, virus replication, and protein assembly and recommended its use against SARS-CoV-2, in combination with vitamin C because of their synergistic effects. You can take 500 mg of quercetin twice per day. Supplementing with vitamin C will enhance the effect.
Finally, melatonin is shown to help support immune function and prevent severe COVID-19 infection. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic reported that patients who were taking melatonin had a nearly 30 percent lower likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19 after adjusting for age, race, smoking history, and various disease comorbidities; the likelihood of testing positive for the virus increased from 30 to 52 percent for African Americans who took the supplement. The usual dose is 0.5–3 mg taken 1 hour prior to bedtime. However, some doctors recommend 3–6 mg. Children should not take melatonin.
Over-the-Counter Treatments to Prevent COVID-19The CDC has now admitted that fully vaccinated people are not necessarily protected from contracting the Delta variant and can spread it. (This is known as viral immune escape, which immunologists should be talking about!) In fact, some studies show that vaccinated people can have up to 1,000 times more viral load in their noses and mouths than unvaccinated, and therefore can (and are) passing this much higher viral load to others—vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.
One easy way to help protect yourself from contracting COVID-19 is to take measures to reduce the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen load in your own respiratory and nasal secretions. Using a simple povidone iodine (brand name Betadine) mouth rinse and nose spray is an easy way to do this. You simply take a few drops of Betadine in water, swish it in your mouth, gargle and spit it out. For your nose you can either use a dropper or sprayer, spray the same diluted solution into each nostril and snort it out. Do this twice per day.
Iodine has been used for a long time as a safe and effective antimicrobial. You probably remember your mother putting it on scrapes when you were a child. However, if you are allergic to iodine or cannot use it for some other reason, you can use diluted hydrogen peroxide. Some over-the-counter mouthwashes, such as Listerine, may also be effective for gargling. A placebo-controlled clinical trial testing 4 antiseptic mouthwash/gargling solutions is currently underway. -Shared from Christiane Northrup, M.D.
A close cousin to the uterine fibroid is the polyp. Both will cause many of the same symptoms, but the latter is usually non cancerous.
Uterine polyps are growths attached to the inner wall of the uterus that extend into the uterine cavity. Overgrowth of cells in the lining of the uterus (endometrium) leads to the formation of uterine polyps, also known as endometrial polyps. These polyps are usually noncancerous (benign), although some can be cancerous or can eventually turn into cancer (precancerous polyps).
Uterine polyps range in size from a few millimeters — no larger than a sesame seed — to several centimeters — golf-ball-size or larger. They attach to the uterine wall by a large base or a thin stalk.
You can have one or many uterine polyps. They usually stay contained within your uterus, but occasionally, they slip down through the opening of the uterus (cervix) into your vagina. Uterine polyps most commonly occur in women who are going through or have completed menopause, although younger women can get them, too.
Signs and symptoms of uterine polyps include:
When to see a doctor
Seek medical care if you have:
Hormonal factors appear to play a role. Uterine polyps are estrogen-sensitive, meaning they grow in response to circulating estrogen.
Risk factors for developing uterine polyps include:
If your doctor suspects you have uterine polyps, he or she might perform one of the following:
Most uterine polyps are noncancerous (benign). However, some precancerous changes of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia) or uterine cancers (endometrial carcinomas) appear as uterine polyps. Your doctor will likely recommend removal of the polyp and will send a tissue sample for lab analysis to be certain you don't have uterine cancer.
For uterine polyps, your doctor might recommend:
Rarely, uterine polyps can recur. If they do, you might need more treatment.
Apparently, uterine fibroids are quite common as we begin to get older and can cause a myriad of problems such as:
Pain areas: in the abdomen, lower back, difficulty or pelvis pain, difficulty urinating
Menstrual: abnormal menstruation, heavy menstruation, irregular menstruation, painful menstruation, or spotting
Also common: abdominal distension or cramping
they are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often first appear during childbearing years. Also called leiomyomas (lie-o-my-O-muhs) or myomas, uterine fibroids aren't associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.
Fibroids range in size from seedlings, undetectable by the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. You can have a single fibroid or multiple ones. In extreme cases, multiple fibroids can expand the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage and can add weight.
Many women have uterine fibroids sometime during their lives. But you might not know you have uterine fibroids because they often cause no symptoms. Your doctor may discover fibroids incidentally during a pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound.
Rarely, a fibroid can cause acute pain when it outgrows its blood supply, and begins to die.
Fibroids are generally classified by their location. Intramural fibroids grow within the muscular uterine wall. Submucosal fibroids bulge into the uterine cavity. Subserosal fibroids project to the outside of the uterus.
When to see a doctorSee your doctor if you have:
Uterine fibroids are frequently found incidentally during a routine pelvic exam. Your doctor may feel irregularities in the shape of your uterus, suggesting the presence of fibroids.
If you have symptoms of uterine fibroids, your doctor may order these tests:
Bleeding post menopause will rile up anyone's day. Nothing worse than feeling the onset of cramping, that hasn't been experienced in years, accompanied by bleeding. One's first precaution is to dive into the internet to see if you are not being afflicted with the big "C". Step two is to call your GYN and ensure you are not harboring a mass of some sort.
It's not that fibromyalgia offers a myriad of nuances as it is, try adding a bit of cramping, fatigue, and deviant emotions to your day that you haven't experienced for 15 years. Yet, according to a recent study in NICHD titled, "Women with Endometriosis Have Higher Rates of Some Diseases," researchers found that woman who suffer from Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have a higher risk for issues such as endometrial hyperplasia. That is due to this disease involving pain in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Endometrial hyperplasia is a condition in which the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) becomes abnormally thick. Although endometrial hyperplasia is not cancer, it can lead to uterine cancer in some women.
Endometrial hyperplasia is usually caused by an excess of estrogen without progesterone (female hormones). The progesterone is not made and the lining of the uterus is not shed if ovulation does not occur. This means that the endometrium may continue to grow in response to the production of estrogen. The cells of the endometrium may abnormally crowd (hyperplasia), which may lead to the cancer of the uterus.
What is atypical endometrial hyperplasia?
Atypical endometrial hyperplasia is a premalignant condition of the endometrium. It occurs when there is an overgrowth of abnormal cells, or it may develop from endometrial hyperplasia. In some cases, polyps (tumors) in the uterus can lead to atypical endometrial hyperplasia.
Who is at risk for developing atypical endometrial hyperplasia?
Atypical endometrial hyperplasia usually develops in older women (after menopause). But it can develop in younger women if they do not ovulate or are obese.
What are the causes of atypical endometrial hyperplasia?
Atypical endometrial hyperplasia develops when there is no balance between the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. This imbalance is called unopposed estrogen and it may be caused by a number of factors including:
What are the symptoms of atypical endometrial hyperplasia?
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of atypical endometrial hyperplasia. Less common symptoms include abnormal vaginal discharges or an abnormal Pap test result.
An interesting comment my doctor asked first was, "Have you been sick recently?"
"No," I replied
"Have you been under any stress lately?" he asked.
"Well, yes, but nothing out of the ordinary," I answered.
"Because stress plays a vital role in disrupting your hormone levels," he concluded.
You can bet i will be on another adventure here, offering you vital information on this topic upcoming. He also prescribed progesterone therapy to regain my hormonal balance.
The new coronavirus — or COVID-19 — is spreading across the United States. Health officials are working to understand how to contain it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that everyone in the general public wear a cloth mask in addition to continuing to follow social distancing guidelines when they must go out into public.
Path to improved health
At first, the CDC said not to wear a mask. Why do we now need to wear cloth masks?
As we receive more data about COVID-19, we are learning more about how it spreads. Data shows that many people already have the virus who do not know that they have it. They are asymptomatic, or not showing symptoms. It can take up to 14 days for a person who has been infected to develop symptoms. That means that when these people go to places like grocery stores and cough or sneeze, they are unintentionally spreading the virus.
The new CDC recommendation is not intended to prevent you from getting COVID-19; it is to protect other people. In order to flatten the curve or slow the rate of spread of the virus in your community, assume that you already have the virus. Wearing a cloth mask will help to contain your own germs should you cough or sneeze in a public place. It will help to prevent you from giving COVID-19 to other people.
Should I try to buy a surgical mask or an N95 respirator?
No. Only health care professionals should wear surgical masks or N95 respirators. We are currently experiencing shortages of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who are working to fight COVID-19. Do not use a surgical mask or N95 respirator if you are not a health care professional. If you already have some of these in your home, you can donate them to a local hospital or health care facility.
Do I still need to practice social distancing?
Yes. Wearing a mask should not take the place of social distancing. You should still stay at least 6 feet away from other people when you go out in public. A cloth mask may help to prevent you from giving the virus to others, but it does not protect you (the wearer). It is still important that you stay home as much as possible and continue to properly wash your hands.
What makes an effective cloth mask?An effective cloth mask should:
How do I make my own cloth mask?
The CDC has posted instructions for how to make your own cloth mask from materials you may already have at home. You can use a t-shirt or a bandana to make your own cloth mask. See instructions from the CDC.
Things to consider
When you wear a mask, it is important to know how to wear it properly. When using a mask, you should:
Click Below for Walmart Masks 50 for $11.60
With the advent of many businesses reopening it is normal to feel a bit of excitement as we begin to transition to normalcy.
But this is not a time to let your guard down just yet. Rather it's time to renew pertinent information as we head down the road of another month.
COVID-19, short for coronavirus disease 2019, is an infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). SARS-CoV-2 is a newly identified pathogen that has not previously been seen in humans and is highly contagious.
Although it belongs to the same category of viruses as SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2 is a different strain with its own characteristics.
COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and the outbreak has spread quickly across the world, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare COVID-19 a pandemic.
How does COVID-19 spread?Because COVID-19 is a new virus, nobody has prior immunity to it, meaning the entire human population is prone to infection.
It primarily spreads via respiratory droplets when people cough or sneeze. Scientists have yet to understand how easily and sustainably the disease can spread among people. Based on available evidence, researchers do not think airborne spread is a major transmission route.
Individuals over age 60 are at the highest risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19, while children do not seem to be at a higher risk than adults.
There are currently no reports about how susceptible pregnant women may be to COVID-19 or about transmission of the virus through breast milk.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms of COVID-19 begin two to 14 days after exposure. They include fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Other symptoms include sputum production, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, myalgia (muscle pain) or arthralgia (joint pain), chills, vomiting, and nasal congestion. Less frequent symptoms include diarrhea, hemoptysis (coughing up blood from the respiratory tract), and conjunctival congestion.
Most of these symptoms are usually mild, and about 80% of people who get the virus will typically recover without needing any special treatment. However, about 1 in 6 patients become seriously ill and develop breathing difficulties.
What general preventive measures should people take?
The following simple preventive measures can help minimize the spread of COVID-19:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend that healthy people wear a face mask.
But as a measure of precaution, it is always best to go out with a mask, preferably an N95.
Is there any specific advice for fibromyalgia patients take?
Because fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disease, patients are not thought to be more at risk of COVID-19 than someone without the disease. People with fibromyalgia should follow the advice provided for the general population.
What should sick individuals do?If symptoms are present and a COVID-19 diagnosis is confirmed, patients should follow these steps to prevent the spread of the infection:
People should call ahead before visiting the hospital for an appointment. This way, the hospital can take necessary steps to prevent the spread of the infection.
Patients who have confirmed COVID-19 should wear face masks when going out. The WHO’s website has a resource explaining the proper use of a face mask.
What tests are available?
Many tests for the detection of COVID-19 have been made available under the FDA’s emergency use authorization, including rapid tests that are being developed to detect the presence of the virus within minutes.
The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics provides an up-to-date list of different manual and automated tests that are available or currently in development.
Is there a treatment?
There are currently no vaccines available for human coronaviruses including COVID-19. This makes the prevention and containment of the virus very important.
Oxygen therapy is the major treatment intervention for patients with severe disease. Mechanical ventilation may be necessary in cases of respiratory failure.
Are there any new treatments in development?
Several clinical trials have been launched or are being planned to test a variety of potential treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. A complete list of all ongoing clinical trials pertaining to the virus is available here. by Fibromyalgia News Today
Living with fibromyalgia means coping with a number of symptoms: widespread muscle pain (myalgia), extreme tenderness in many areas of the body, sleep disturbances, fatigue, headaches, and mood issues like depression and anxiety. But how does having fibromyalgia impact your risk of COVID-19 and ability to manage these symptoms while staying at home? Here’s what our experts want fibromyalgia patients to know about navigating the coronavirus pandemic.
Does Fibromyalgia Make You High-Risk for Coronavirus?
The answer depends on whether you have primary or secondary fibromyalgia, says Petros Efithimiou, MD, FACR, a rheumatologist who practices in New York City.
Primary fibromyalgia, which is the most common form, is a chronic pain syndrome in which the body and brain process pain and stimuli differently, explains Dr. Efithimiou. Importantly: “There is no immunosuppression.”
Since fibromyalgia doesn’t compromise your immune system, there is “no increased risk for acquiring COVID-19 nor increased risk for mortality from that disease,” says Frederick Wolfe, MD, a rheumatologist and fibromyalgia expert in Wichita, Kansas.
“People with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia should follow the suggestions of medical authorities for ordinary citizens,” he says, including proper hand-washing, practicing social distancing, and avoiding unnecessary travel and close contact with other people if you need to go to work or run an essential errand.
Secondary fibromyalgia, on the other hand, often occurs in patients with immune system disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and axial spondyloarthritis. In this case, your immune system can be suppressed and you would be considered high risk for COVID-19.
Knowing the difference is crucial.
“People might think that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease since they are often referred to and treated by rheumatologists, and some of their symptoms may mimic those of lupus or other rheumatology patients,” says Nilanjana Bose, MD, MBA, a rheumatologist at the Rheumatology Center of Houston in Pearland, Texas.
But fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disease, which occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your own cells and tissues.
Do Fibromyalgia Medications Suppress the Immune System?There is not necessarily a straightforward or universal way to treat fibromyalgia. Your medication options will depend on your most concerning symptoms as well as if you have any co-occurring conditions. Drugs used to treat primary fibromyalgia may include antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs):
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, it’s probably best to avoid NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve); you’re better off taking acetaminophen (Tylenol). According to a well-publicized article in British Medical Journal, “prolonged illness or the complications of respiratory illness or the complications of respiratory infections may be more common when NSAIDs are used — both respiratory or septic [blood infection] complications and cardiovascular complications,” said Paul Little, MD, professor of primary care research at the University of Southhampton in the UK.
“The medication patients take for pain and fibromyalgia, such as gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica) do not decrease the ability of the immune system,” says Dr. Efithimiou.
Additionally, antidepressants do not affect the immune system, says Dr. Bose, and “you should continue these medications to avoid flares.” Before stopping a medication, contact your physician over the phone or using a telehealth system to come up with a plan.
Distinguishing Fibromyalgia Symptoms from Coronavirus Symptoms
Many of the symptoms you may experience with fibromyalgia — including chest pain, body aches, fatigue, and malaise — can also be symptoms of COVID-19. But experts say you’ll be able to tell the difference.
“We tell our patients, if you feel any drastic changes — such as feeling out of breath or sharp pains in your chest — or feel different than your baseline, you need to tell us,” says Dr. Efithimiou. “We ask them to evaluate the intensity and character of symptoms. People are quite anxious, but they should stay away from the hospital.”
Anxiety and depression can cause physical symptoms, including body aches, fatigue, and chest pain. “The best way to tell the difference between potential COVID-19 symptoms and those of your chronic condition is to seek professional medical advice through an office visit or telehealth, which is available at many locations,” says Brett Smith, DO, a rheumatologist with Blount Memorial Physicians Group in Alcoa, Tennessee.
Managing Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Under Quarantine
Fibromyalgia symptoms like pain and stiffness, fatigue, disrupted sleep, anxiety, and depression may feel intensified right now. “It’s a two-way street,” says Dr. Efithimiou. “The more you can control anxiety, the better symptoms are going to be.”
We asked rheumatologists and psychologist John S. Fry, PhD, a former member of the National Fibromyalgia Association, what you can do to manage these symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many people find that exercise helps ease their fibromyalgia symptoms and quality of life. The coronavirus shouldn’t stop you from moving. Go for a walk, walk your dog, try online yoga, tai chi, or strength-training classes. Pace yourself and give yourself plenty of rest between sessions.
Practice relaxation techniques
It’s important for people with chronic pain and fatigue to learn how to relax their bodies by meditating, doing yoga, or practicing deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. While there are apps available to walk you through these strategies, telemental health can help you hone these and other pain management skills, says Dr. Fry, who is licensed to practice in California.
Lean on loved ones
Dr. Fry believes it should be called “spatial distancing” not “social distancing,” especially since it’s so important for people living with chronic illness to have social support from friends and loved ones right now. Make sure to carve out time to connect with others, whether that’s calling a friend, FaceTiming or Skyping, or arranging a Zoom meeting with family and friends, says Dr. Fry. And take advantage of those loved ones who are around you 24/7; don’t hesitate to ask for a gentle massage or help with household chores, he adds.
“Many fibro patients may have underlying depression and/or anxiety or a history of past trauma. It is important to broaden your safety net during the pandemic,” says Lenore Brancato, MD, clinical assistant professor in the division of rheumatology at NYU Langone Health in New York City. “With constant solemn news in the media and necessary isolation from family and friends, it can stoke anxiety for everyone, especially patients with fibro.”
Create a schedule
Whether you plan out a detailed schedule of your day or jot down a To-Do list every morning, creating a routine for yourself will help alleviate feelings of isolation and create some normalcy as you follow shelter-in-place orders. As you complete your tasks, “take a few seconds to savor the fact that you got it done,” Dr. Fry says.
Shift your self-talk
Self-talk can make a huge difference in how you manage your anxiety, which is likely causing you to catastrophize and think in black and white, explains Dr. Fry. Instead of saying to yourself something like: “Coronavirus is everywhere. I’m trying to protect myself. I’m scared. I’m going to get it — and if I do no one will be there for me,” say to yourself something like: “I might get the coronavirus, but I might not if I’m careful.”
Remind yourself that you’re not alone. You likely have friends and family members and reaching out to them does not make you a burden. Think about the last time a friend called you for emotional support. After you hung up the phone, did you think it was a burden? Helping others is a behavior that’s been proven through research to make people happy, says Dr. Fry.
Find a healthy distraction
As you stay at home as much as possible, home in on hobbies and activities to help exacerbate feelings of anxiety and social isolation. Whether you paint, garden, color, scrapbook, or catchup on a Netflix series, it’s important to get into things that give you pleasure.
When you live with fibromyalgia, getting quality sleep is a struggle. Unrelenting pain can disrupt sleep, which can lead to increased achiness and fatigue, creating a vicious cycle. Anxiety over the coronavirus can make it even harder to fall asleep or stay asleep all night. Now’s the time to make an extra effort to shut off those worries before shut-eye and change your perspective. “Before bed, write down three good things that happened, even if it’s been a horrible day,” says Dr. Fry. “Even if they’re little things: my dog licked my hand, I saw a pretty hummingbird, a friend called me today. This too shall pass.”
“Facilitating restorative sleep, which can be difficult during the best of times for fibro patients, requires attention,” says Dr. Brancato. “Sleep hygiene and sleep rituals, such as legs up the wall or simple inversions and meditation practice may be helpful. Daily exercises (even seated biceps curls or leg lifts)can help reduce pain and relieve stress. Exercise can also foster improved sleep.” - Creaky Joints
Valerie utilizes an extensive amount of research producing this blog. Categories are purposely set up in stages, rather than topics, so you can easily implement one step at a time.