Most Fibromyalgia patients are on a first name basis with IBS. This uninvited guest showed up at the dinner party early, took a seat near the head of the table, and with obtuse disregard, blatantly ignored the hints that he had out stayed his welcome.
Wait, it gets worse. Not only was he not on the guest list, but he brought a ‘plus one’. Introduced as ‘Monsieur Gastroparesis‘, the two proceeded to dominate the evening. With an overt disdain of decorum, these two party crashers caroused throughout the night with a drunken abandon that would have put a Roman gorge fest to shame.
Although they share commonalities, the disorders also have a few distinct traits that separate one from the other. Both are digestive disorders, and both are common in Fibromyalgia sufferers, although you may never have heard the term gastroparesis. Oh, and it is possible to have both…isn’t that special?!
Gastroparesis is a disorder where the stomach does not empty itself of food normally. One of the causes of this is damage to the vagus nerve, or a reaction that causes this nerve to kick into inflammatory mode .
It has been hypothesized that this may happen due to viruses (such as the Epstein Barr Virus) which reactivate from time to time. The virus causes alarm signals within certain cells that carry a warning message to the nerve, which then tells the brain terrible things are happening in the body and voila! You have FMS/CFS/ME symptoms running at full capacity. Although there may be a small amount of infection, the cells/vagus nerve/ and brain overreact and cause full-blown flares.
It’s a logical leap to make that if the vagus nerve (which is responsible for over-seeing digestion) is compromised, your digestive functions may be adversely effected.
See your physician if you suspect you have IBS, gastroparesis, or are experiencing any digestive issues with your FMS. There are tests that show if the stomach is not emptying properly. Depending on severity, medication and/or diet modification may help.