Unfortunately, fibromyalgia symptoms and many other autoimmune diseases are much more widespread today than they were in the past. Many of them don’t show up in blood or other medical testing… and some diseases like fibromyalgia don’t have diagnostic lab tests at all. They have to be pinned down by the process of elimination and physical exams by your doctor. Growing children have different physical needs and conditions than adults, and their symptoms of the disease can be wildly different. That’s why pediatric medicine is such a specialized field… and the study of fibromyalgia symptoms and autoimmune diseases is endless.
When a child exhibits symptoms of pain, fatigue, sleeplessness, bad dreams, insomnia, and sensitivities to smells and bright lights… we tend to think of them as “growing pain” issues… and perfectly normal. After all, everyone experiences these things from time to time. However, children may not be able to describe what’s going on with them and a combination of these fibromyalgia symptoms, in any grouping, should be setting off alarm bells for you as a parent.
Fibromyalgia can be sneaky, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for you can misunderstand the significance of the symptoms as unrelated as they may seem. No two fibromyalgia sufferers have situations that are exactly alike. Even the presumed triggers of the syndrome a severe illness or accident preceding the onset of the fibromyalgia symptoms will be different for each individual.
It wasn’t until I was in my late forties that I was personally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The syndrome appears to have been triggered after an accident at the age of five. I had some very weird and misunderstood fibromyalgia symptoms. I’ve listed some questions here, that you can ask your child:
Potential Indicators of Childhood Fibromyalgia
Does your child complain of unusual or chronic aches and pains, or odd pain responses to normal activities?
Bruise easily and tend to avoid physical activities that involve physical contact with other people or toys and equipment?
Say it hurts when lightly touched, as with a pat on the arm?
Complain about the feeling of pins and needles, and numbness, especially in hands, arms and feet?
Mention having exaggerated pain response as when hitting their knees or elbow bones
Complain of tender points on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, knees, or feet which may be more painful on one side of the body, and may vary in intensity with or without physical activity?
Chronic fatigue- Does your child regularly wake up stiff and sore in the morning? Does your child exhibit any of these fatigue symptoms on a regular basis… or in combination with other fibromyalgia symptoms?
Tiring easily after normal activities, like a walk in the park
Falling asleep while watching a favorite TV show, riding in the car or waiting for an appointment or event to start
Looking for a place to lean or sit, instead of standing upright
Have difficulty keeping up physically in school-related activities, gym or just carrying school supplies to and from class
Brain fog- Does your child have difficulty concentrating or remembering things?
Forgetting due dates, school assignments, or household duties
Misunderstanding instructions or physical location directions (getting lost)
Forgetting the names of classmates or failing to recognize people they’ve met or mixing up words and meanings, verbally or in writing
Have confusion about responsibilities or participating in common activities
Sleep disorders- Does your child have difficulty falling asleep? Staying asleep? Do they fight sleep because of the fear of nightmares? Do they seem even more tired after they wake up in the morning… or do they complain about these?
Report seeing flashes of light, vivid colors moving in patterns when they close their eyes
Reversing hours, up and awake at night and crashing/exhausted during the day
Report frequent (even nightly) bad dreams, vivid dreams, repetitive dreams, nightmares or night terrors
Sensitivities to smells, sounds, lights, medications and/or foods- Does your child have negative reactions to one or more of these stimuli?
Becoming ill or having an immediate/severe headache when entering a store selling products like fragrances or sewing supplies (polyester dust)
Loud or high pitched sounds causing pain or disorientation
Bright lights or sunlight glare causing headaches, pain, watering eyes, dizziness
Allergic reactions to medications and foods, which can be very serious
Ringing in the ears (Tinnitis)
Mood disorders- Does your child exhibit unusual or extreme mood swings?
Sudden onset of depression over minor issues including dropping out of programs and activities that they previously loved doing
Panic attacks, anxiety over everyday activities, excessive worrying over school presentations, tests and activities that they previously found easy and enjoyable
General unhappiness and unwillingness to participate in activities with family and friends, declining invitations they would have otherwise accepted
Please make notes to share with your doctor… and be aware that there are many more fibromyalgia symptoms that what I’ve noted here in the questions list. There are things, however, that you can watch for that may indicate fibromyalgia symptoms or other autoimmune diseases. Note sudden changes in your child’s behavior especially after an accident or illness. Tell your doctor if you have a family member with fibromyalgia symptoms. While it’s less common in boys and men, fibromyalgia can strike anyone. Don’t assume your son is immune because he’s male.
Be sure you talk to your child if you suspect that they may be having problems like I’ve mentioned here… and listen to what they tell you! Don’t let others, including your doctor, dismiss symptoms that you feel need to be investigated further. It doesn’t matter how weird or unrelated they may seem to you. Get a second opinion if necessary, preferably with a specialist familiar with treating fibromyalgia.
If your child does test positive for fibromyalgia symptoms or another autoimmune disease, you should know that there is hope for a happy, active life for sufferers today. Besides the treatment program prescribed by your doctor, consider revving-up the child’s immune system with a cellular nutrition program. This is not usually mentioned by physicians, but it’s recognized for the treatment of diseases by the AMA and CDC… and it’s what I discovered for myself after years of pain and suffering.