Pregnancy Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibro
It has taken several years, but today chronic fatigue syndrome is no longer a condition considered to be "all in the head", as it was less than 20 years ago. Autoimmune diseases seem to be on the rise, or maybe it is just that they are now being diagnosed correctly.
What Is An Autoimmune Disease?
An autoimmune disease, as defined by Medscape, is: "an illness that occurs when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization within the body that is designed normally to "seek and destroy" invaders of the body, including infectious agents. Patients with autoimmune diseases frequently have unusual antibodies circulating in their blood that target their own body tissues. Examples of autoimmune diseases include systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune diseases are more frequent in women than in men. It is felt that the estrogen of females may influence the immune system to predispose some women to autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, the presence of one autoimmune disease increases the chance for developing another simultaneous autoimmune disease.
According to Noel Rose, M.D., PhD., director of the Johns Hopkins Autoimmune Disease Research Center in Baltimore, "Most physicians went through medical school at a time when we didn't understand much about autoimmune disease. It's not prominent on their mental radar screen." Unfortunately, the cost to women who are not diagnosed in time is heavy, often causing problems for the rest of their lives. Dr. Rose went on to say, "Autoimmune diseases seem to hit women particularly in their most demanding years - when they are starting their families and have young children at home."
Pregnancy Lupus - Can I Still Have A Baby?
Among the autoimmune diseases that affect pregnant women very adversely are pregnancy lupus and pregnancy chronic fatigue syndrome. As Dr. Rose noted, diagnosis can be very slow, especially since in pregnancy fatigue is a normal part of the process. Doctors tend to pass severe fatigue off as a pregnancy symptom, however, when it continues long past the birth of the baby, the problem has the potential to become life threatening.
At one point, women with lupus were counseled not to become pregnant because the risk of a flare meant a possible miscarriage. Today, while pregnancy lupus requires great attention from the doctor, it is possible for a woman with this disorder to deliver a healthy, normal baby and have a relatively safe pregnancy. Counseling and planning are critical with any birth when an autoimmune disease is involved.
Pregnancy Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Pregnancy with rheumatoid arthritis is possible, but, like lupus, requires consistent monitoring and proper medications. There is a greater chance of miscarriage and a possibility of congenital abnormalities for a woman with rheumatoid arthritis in pregnancy. Statistically there is a greater chance of premature birth and neonatal complications as well. Pregnancy arthritis can make the gestation period very uncomfortable with swollen joints and inflammation causing pain and discomfort. While medication can help, the effects on the unborn baby have to be considered. The situation is not unlike pregnancy with cancer - the consideration of the effect of drugs is very important.
Pregnancy chronic fatigue and the inability to gain energy are strong indicators of fibromyalgia syndrome as well. Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are relatively recent disease discoveries and for many years women were told that they were overreacting to something or that they were trying to escape life by sleeping it away. As it turns out, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia syndrome are the latest in the world of autoimmune disorders and diseases. FMS in pregnancy can put a woman "down for the count" in terms of ability to function and care for the day-to-day things in life.
Is Lyrica A Safe Drug For Me To Take?
A drug that has been very useful for women suffering with FMS is Lyrica, and as long as it is taken correctly, it has a lower chance of creating drug dependency than other drugs designed for this disorder. However, Lyrica is a Category C drug, which means that in pregnancy, Lyrica's effects are unknown and therefore highly risky. A Category C rating means that the drug has not been tested on humans and it must be determined that the benefits of taking the drug far outweigh the risks of it. When tested on pregnant rats, the rate of miscarriages was higher on rats given Lyrica than those that were not given the drug. If a woman is taking Lyrica and considering pregnancy, treatment options for FMS in pregnancy should be discussed with the physician.