Dry Eyes and Mouth due to Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is typically characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, inability to get refreshing sleep, waking up tired and stiff, and developing cognitive disturbances including lack of concentration and clumsiness, dizziness, etc.
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic and long-term condition that has no cure. About 10 million people are currently diagnosed with this disorder. Although 9 out of 10 people diagnosed are women, men also get this disorder.
The presence of ocular discomfort or eye dryness and grittiness is one of the more common complaints of fibromyalgia compared to oral or mouth dryness. Studies have shown that there may be alteration in the formation of tears when compared to the general population.
A syndrome condition called Sjogren’s syndrome is typically characterized by dry eyes and the inability to form tears. It has been seen, however, that fibromyalgia patients with dry eyes and dry mouth do not satisfy the criteria for diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome. They are commonly diagnosed with Dry eye and mouth syndrome (DEMS).
A study looking at corneal sensitivity and corneal changes among fibromyalgia patients shows that the sensitivity is the same irrespective of the age of the fibromyalgia patients. This could be due to the deterioration of the nerves and sensory systems of the eye.
The study also finds an association between fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and Sjogren’s syndrome.
Tear secretion is markedly decreased in fibromyalgia but not to the extent of other dry eye conditions. Further, the eye becomes more sensitive to high levels of carbon dioxide, heat, and cold compared to normal persons.
Normal tear formation is controlled by the lacrimal functional unit that includes the cornea, conjunctiva, accessory lacrimal glands, and meibomian glands. These are all connected with a fine network of nerves.
Fibromyalgia is closely associated with irritable bowel syndrome and reduced salivary secretions leading to dry mouth. Dry mouth in itself is rarely present. It is more commonly associated with dry eyes in patients with fibromyalgia.
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