Obtaining Life Insurance While Fighting Fibromyalgia
There are about 12 million Americans who suffer from fibromyalgia, which is the second most common musculoskeletal disorder after osteoarthritis. Patients who suffer from it will endure aches and pains throughout their bodies and extreme fatigue. Left unchecked, it can be a highly debilitating condition, leading to other health consequences, both physical and emotional.
Many of the symptoms of fibromyaligia can be alleviated through lifestyle changes and the use of medications such as vicodin and oxycontin. For patients who are able to control their condition, they may be able to qualify for standard rates when seeking life insurance coverage.
What You Need to Know About Fibromyalgia
The first thing you need to understand about fibromyalgia is that it is extremely painful. Sufferers will endure aches and pains throughout their entire body, and in some particularly tender points, just the physical touch from another person will produce even greater levels of pain.
The most common flashpoints for increased pain and sensitivity tend to be around joints in the neck, back, hips and shoulders. Because these are strategic points in the body that are used for most every kind of daily activity, fibromyalgia sufferers will have a high degree of difficulty both day and night, including a real challenge when it comes to getting a restful night of sleep.
While fibromyalgia is marked by pain throughout the body, there are other symptoms as well:
Fatigue – When a person can’t get a good night’s rest, fatigue is a constant companion. Even though patients may sleep for long periods, that sleep is often interrupted and may be accompanied by other sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea.
Fibro fog – This is a general term used to describe a whole host of activities that a person might have difficulty accomplishing due to fibromyalgia. It commonly occurs in tasks requiring focus, concentration and paying attention when attempting to complete mental tasks.
Headaches – It is not uncommon for fibromyalgia sufferers to also have to deal with chronic headaches.
Cramping in the lower abdomen – Cramping often leads to other problems such as the inability to keep food down, dehydration, and painful or frequent urination.
Irritable bowel syndrome – IBS will manifest itself as diarrhea, constipation and cramps.
Dehydration – Fibromyalgia will produce dryness in the mouth, nose and eyes.
Tingling in the extremities – Patients routinely notice a numbness, burning or tingling in their fingers and feet.
Depression – The combination of a lack of restful sleep and ongoing intense bouts of pain will cause many to become clinically depressed over time.
Although fibromyalgia can affect anyone at any age, most sufferers tend to be between 25 and 60 years old. Women are 10 times more likely to come down with this disease than men.
To confirm the presence of fibromyalgia, doctors will perform a blood test called FM/a that can identify markers in the produced by a person’s immune system in the bloodstream. They will also attempt to rule out problems with the thyroid gland, since hypothyroidism presents the same kinds of symptoms as fibromyalgia. One of the keys to confirming the presence of the disease is if widespread pain has persisted for at least three months.
Although doctors can diagnose fibromyalgia, there is no cure, which is why having this disease will have an impact on getting life insurance. However, steps can be taken to treat fibromyalgia symptoms. Doctors generally prescribe two courses of action for their patients,
Medications – Fibromyalgia can be treated with medications several ways. The first is to prescribe pain killers such as acetaminophen which is found in Tylenol and other similar over-the-counter remedies. Ibuprophen is another popular choice and is often recommended by taking Advil or Motrin. Naproxen sodium found in Aleve is yet another possible choice. Doctors do not generally prescribe narcotic painkillers because they may actually make the pain worse and patients can easily become addicted to them.
Because fibromyalgia is such a mentally debilitating disease, doctors will also prescribe antidepressants such as Cymbalta or Savella, which can ease the fatigue and pain associated with the disease. Prozac is sometimes introduced to help make it easier for patients to sleep better.
It’s also been found that anti-seizure drugs will alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Epilepsy medications also can help reduce pain as well.
Lifestyle changes – Medications can only do so much for fibromyalgia sufferers. In conjunction with medications, doctors will also help patients make changes in their lifestyles that can ease impacts of the disease. One of the biggest keys is to help people reduce stress in their lives. Stress taxes the body and causes fibromyalgia to flare up more frequently and intensely. In concert with less stress, a patient must discipline themselves to get enough sleep to combat the fatigue element of fibromyalgia. Moderate exercise and eating a healthy diet that limits the intake of caffeine are also important keys in a self-care regimen.
Although less mainstream in nature, others are turning to alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga and tai chi, and massage therapy to help manage the pain and stress issues associated with fibromyalgia.
Getting Life Insurance If You Have Fibromyalgia
When you are suffering from fibromyalgia, you can still get life insurance, but underwriters will pay very close attention to your medical records and medical history. They will want to know how long you have suffered from the disease and how severe your case is before issuing a policy.
How you are being treated for fibromyalgia will also be a key to getting your insurance policy. Life insurance companies will want to know what drugs you are taking and how long you have been taking them, as well as how effective they are in managing your pain. They will also want to see a commitment to a healthy lifestyle on your part, ultimately making sure that your fibromyalgia is being well managed and has stabilized.
Underwriters will also ask about your ability to maintain a full time job and whether or not you are receiving any disability benefits. This will tell them just how disabling your condition really is.
Finally, underwriters will need to know if other underlying conditions are present, such as a diagnosis of depression which could raise a red flag and lead a denial of your application or approval with only limited benefits during the first few years your policy is in place.