What's Fibromyalgia, the Disease that Andrea Levy Has?

Difficulties performing a public speaking engagement, as well as performing many other daily activities, may be due to fibromyalgia. This is the case for Andrea Levy, who recently spoke out about the condition. Learn more in this article!
What's Fibromyalgia, the Disease that Andrea Levy Has?

Last update: 20 May, 2021

Recently, the Madrid City Council’s head of culture, sports, and tourism and spokesperson of the municipal government, Andrea Levy, spoke publically, sparking criticism among viewers and users of social media. Her reading lacked fluidity and she seems to get stuck. The reason? According to Levy herself, it’s fibromyalgia.

Although the illness is a real condition that affects many people, the World Health Organization didn’t recognize it until 1992. To date, it affects 5.4% of the general population and 92.7% of patients are women, according to data from the Fibromyalgia Association.

Some have questioned whether this is the reason why Andrea Levy’s performance isn’t as expected. So, let’s take a look at what fibromyalgia is and what symptoms people with this condition may present.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic disease that tends to affect middle-aged women to a greater extent. Its cause is unknown, but observations show that it causes symptoms that could explain what happens to Andrea Levy in public speaking and many other aspects of her life.

According to some studies, the disorder is associated with the problem involves a state of burnout. That is, it involves acute and intense stress that makes it difficult to perform the usual tasks. This is not because they constitute specific signs, but because of the impairment of quality of life.

The symptoms could be exacerbated by various factors:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Temperature changes

The most characteristic symptom of fibromyalgia is continuous and generalized pain throughout the body, both in muscles, joints, and tendons of the upper and lower body. Andrea Levy comments that this pain can be “almost paralyzing” and affects her night’s rest.

General malaise, lack of sleep, exhaustion, lack of energy, and other discomforts, even when medication is taken to cope with them, affect the quality of life. And, therefore, professional performance. A study in the journal Clinical Rheumatology suggested, more than 10 years ago, that this condition is a cause of temporary incapacity in workers.

A woman cringing with her hand on her lower back.
Muscle pain due to fibromyalgia is intense. It goes through more acute periods as well as plateau stages.

Continue reading: 7 Misconceptions about Fibromyalgia

What are the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia?

According to scientific literature, the main symptom of Andrea Levy’s disease is pain. Although theories have been developed to explain the origin, it’s not entirely clear. Autoimmune issues, genetics, and the role of oxidative stress in metabolism have been considered.

The symptoms associated with fibromyalgia are the following:

  • Stiffness: Especially morning stiffness. There’s difficulty in moving the fingers, stretching the legs, and bending the back. This stiffness can be gradual and diffuse, causing new pains, such as tension headaches and alterations of peristalsis leading to colic.
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction: Together with stiffness and muscle contractures in the face, the jaw loses functionality.
  • Hypersensitivity and chronic fatigue syndrome: This is extreme tiredness that prevents the person from carrying out daily activities. Even when the person rests, they don’t feel like they recover.
  • Fiber fog: Intense mental fatigue that produces chronic pain in these patients. At the same time, concentration and short-term memory problems develop.
  • Anxiety and depression: Typical of all the stress that accumulates in the person with chronic pain who doesn’t feel able to perform daily activities. It’s also been suggested that some cases of fibromyalgia are secondary to mood disorders and not the other way around. It’s clear that the prognosis may worsen in these situations.
A factsheet about fibromyalgia.
Source: Verwellhealth.com

Symptoms that affect one’s quality of life

Based on the above, fibromyalgia’s understood as a disease that not only affects quality of life but also a person’s social development. Therefore, it wouldn’t be out of place to consider this the cause of various difficulties at work.

Andrea Levy, who states she was diagnosed last July with this pathology, says that coping with the discomfort is a struggle in itself.

A woman sitting in bed rubbing her temples.
The sleep disorder caused by the disease affects patients’ performance in the work and social spheres.

Find out: Can fibromyalgia be hereditary?

Treating fibromyalgia is a battle with several open fronts

There’s no cure for fibromyalgia and treatment can only palliate the symptoms presented by the patient. Non-opioid analgesics, the application of local heat, physiotherapy massages, and exercises are included in the therapeutic arsenal.

Stress management and, if appropriate, the prescription of antidepressant medication is key to improving nighttime rest. It’s a battle with several open fronts, as it not only requires addressing the physical discomfort but also the emotional stress that fibromyalgia produces in patients.

The Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare clarifies the following:

“The objective of FM management is the relief of symptoms and the maintenance of functional capacity in the personal, family, and professional spheres of the sufferer, preventing deterioration of their quality of life or minimizing it as much as possible.”

If you or a loved one suspect you may suffer from fibromyalgia, make sure to see a trusted doctor.

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