Getting Sick on Top of Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS

We have fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) — aren't we sick enough already? Yes, we are, but that doesn't mean we're immune to all the bugs that go around. Whether you get a bad case of it or not, you're likely to feel it more than most people, and illness can trigger a flare.

Adult man and young child sleeping together in bed
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Prevention Is Key

The best way to deal with illness is to head it off at the pass. Take steps to keep from getting sick or to keep it from getting worse. For prevention, the best advice is avoiding sick people (if possible) and washing your hands. If frequent washing isn't an option, use hand sanitizer.

The flu vaccine is also safe and effective for those with fibromyalgia. FMS is not a contraindication to the flu, or any, vaccine.

If You're Getting Sick

If you feel like you're coming down with something, you may be able to keep it from getting too bad. If you're exposed to the flu or have flu symptoms (beyond what's normal with ME/CFS), get to your healthcare provider right away. Drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza can shorten the duration of symptoms or help prevent the flu. Remember to check in with your practitioner about any increased FMS or ME/CFS symptoms you're having and extra prescription refills that you may need.

You might also want to talk with your doctor about supplements that may boost your immune function, such as:

  • Carnitine
  • CoQ10
  • DHEA
  • Rhodiola
  • Theanine

However, if you tend to be sensitive to meds and supplements, it's not a good idea to start a new supplement when you're sick—you definitely don't need a bad reaction adding to your problems.

Other than that, the best thing to do is rest, rest, rest and do what you can to manage your symptoms.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Handwashing: clean hands save lives.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What you should know about flu antiviral drugs. Reviewed April 22, 2019

By Adrienne Dellwo
Adrienne Dellwo is an experienced journalist who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and has written extensively on the topic.