An estimate of 90% of adults have been infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) at least once in their lifetime. In general, EBV causes mild symptoms and come and go. It is possible that some people may not even be aware that they had the infection. However, for certain people, the virus can produce more severe and recurring symptoms which can last years.
Fibromyalgia patients falls in this group of people who are more vulnerable to EBV. The virus could be the root of some of the unexplained fibromyalgia symptoms.
What is Epstein-Barr Virus
Epstein-Barr virus belongs to the herpes family, known to cause chickenpox and cold sores. Similar to other viruses, EBV is contagious and spread through saliva and body fluids. EBV infection displays symptoms like:
The more common EBV complication is mononucleosis, or mono. This condition produces fatigue and flu-like symptoms which last for weeks. However, EBV does not necessarily lead to mono. As a matter of fact, most EBV infections are mild, hence the virus is often left unnoticed. In children, the age group where most people are infected, the symptoms of EBV are often mistaken as cold. On the other hand, EBV displays more severe symptoms in adults, just like in chickenpox. In general, most recover from the infection within a few weeks.
However, once infected, the virus stays in the body for years. It can sometimes reactivate to produce another round of symptoms, a condition known as chronic Epstein-Barr virus infection. Generally, people who had EBV infection would develop immunity to the virus and hence would not suffer from a relapse. However, people with a weak immune system are more susceptible to the chronic EBV infection.
Can Epstein-Barr Virus Cause Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
As mentioned 9 in 10 adults had been infected with EBV. This means 90% of adults have EBV lying inactive in them. Fibromyalgia patients, known to have a weaker immune system, are more prone to suffer from chronic EBV infection symptoms.
A study followed 50 fibromyalgia participants and suggested that the symptoms found in the participants are typical of Epstein-Barr virus infection not of fibromyalgia. In the study, 54% had recurring sore throat, 47% had recurring rash, 40% had recurring cough, 28% had recurring low grade fever. Furthermore, half of the participants reported that their symptoms appear suddenly which suggest a viral syndrome.
The study suggests fibromyalgia patients are at risk of chronic Epstein-Barr virus infection which could be the cause of the aforementioned symptoms common in fibromyalgia.
If you think that EBV may be causing your symptoms, talk to your doctor. Your doctor will send you for an EBV test. He can also prescribe you with the necessary medications to help manage any EBV infection.
How To Treat Epstein-Barr Virus Infection
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for EBV. Furthermore, the prevalence of the virus in humans means that it is difficult to prevent yourself from being infected by other people. Hence, the best way to treat EBV infection is to treat and manage its symptoms as you would with a cold. Get the necessary medications for sore throat and fever. Rest to recuperate. Do not overwork yourself as it would only worsen your symptoms and trigger a fibromyalgia flare. Keep yourself hydrated and eat well.