Sometimes, people strongly suspect (or are sure) that they have fibromyalgia. Instead, however, they may have arthritis, Lyme disease, lupus, thyroid dysfunction, Raynaud's phenomenon, or a variety of other common and not-so-common medical problems. And sometimes people have both fibromyalgia and other serious medical problems. Having fibromyalgia doesn't exempt you from getting sick with other illnesses (even though it seems like it would be only fair that it should).
With the existing array of possible medical problems and their often-overlapping symptoms, even doctors can become confused sometimes about which is which when they're working on a diagnosis. A good doctor is up to this task, of course, as long as you don't expect instant results on your first visit.
For example, suppose that one of your primary symptoms is extreme fatigue, possibly to the point of total exhaustion — even though you haven't been doing anything more strenuous than using the remote control to change channels. This action may use up one calorie or less, but you feel like you've climbed Mount Everest. Maybe your problem is fibromyalgia, but maybe not.
Extreme tiredness is one of the possible symptoms of many medical problems, including hypothyroidism, anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease, arthritis, and — oh, yes — fibromyalgia, too. No wonder sorting it all out can be so hard sometimes! To find out more about illnesses often confused with FMS, and how doctors sort them out, read Chapter 6.
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