How Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treated
Treatment is determined by your healthcare provider and based on:
- Your overall health and medical history
- Extent of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
- Medicine, including corticosteroids, antidepressants, and others
- Light-intensity aerobic exercise
- Dietary supplements and herbal preparations
- Psychotherapy and supportive counseling
What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The cause of CFS is not yet fully understood, but it is likely that several factors contribute to its development. There are changes in the immune system and body chemistry.
CFS is usually triggered by a viral infection, such as glandular fever or influenza, but any infection may be the trigger. It is likely that the potential for getting CFS is genetic and runs in families. Some people experience ongoing effects of COVID-19 infection, known as long COVID, which are very similar to the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Other factors that may contribute include:
- emotional or physical distress
- multiple joint pain without joint swelling or redness
- headaches of a new type, pattern or severity
- unrefreshing sleep
- tiredness that can last for more than 24 hours after physical or mental effort.
Some people also report a range of other symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite, irritable bowel syndrome , bloating, diarrhoea, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, jaw pain, night sweats, increased sensitivity to alcohol or medication, chronic cough, dizzy spells or dry eyes.
The severity of symptoms can vary from day to day, or even within a day.
Key Points About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by profound tiredness.
- Symptoms often worsen with physical or mental activity.
- In addition to severe fatigue, symptoms include light sensitivity, headache, muscle and joint pain, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and depression.
- Treatments may include medicines, exercise, supplements, and counseling.
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What We Know Now
As I discussed in a recent article in the journal JAMA, research has documented underlying biological abnormalities involving many organ systems in people with ME/CFS, compared with healthy controls. Heres an overview of what the current science suggests.
The brain. Tests of brain hormones, formal tests of thinking, magnetic resonance imaging , and positron emission tomography scans of the brain are abnormal in a substantial fraction of patients with ME/CFS. Tests of the autonomic nervous system, which controls vital functions including body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and movement of the intestines and bladder, also are abnormal. Not all of these abnormalities of the brain are present in every person with ME/CFS, and they appear to come and go.
Energy metabolism. We are alive because the cells of our body are alive. And theyre alive because they can make energy, and use that energy to do their jobs and remain alive. Our cells make energy out of the oxygen in the air we breathe, and out of the sugars, fats, and proteins we eat. In ME/CFS, research has shown that the cells have trouble both making and using energy. That is, people with ME/CFS feel they dont have enough energy because their cells are not making enough, nor using what they make efficiently. The ability of cells to extract oxygen from the blood and use it to make energy appears particularly defective after physical and mental exertion.
What Are The Treatments For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There is no cure or approved treatment for CFS, but you may be able to treat or manage some of your symptoms. You, your family, and your health care provider should work together to decide on a plan. You should figure out which symptom causes the most problems and try to treat that first. For example, if sleep problems affect you the most, you might first try using good sleep habits. If those do not help, you may need to take medicines or see a sleep specialist.
Strategies such as learning new ways to manage activity can also be helpful. You need to make sure that you do not “push and crash.” This can happen when you feel better, do too much, and then get worse again.
Since the process of developing a treatment plan and attending to self-care can be hard if you have CFS, it is important to have support from family members and friends.
Don’t try any new treatments without talking to your health care provider. Some treatments that are promoted as cures for CFS are unproven, often costly, and could be dangerous.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Who Is At Risk For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Because the cause of CFS is not known, its hard to know what might put someone at risk for getting the condition. However, certain factors are seen more often in people with CFS. These factors include:
- Gender. CFS happens up to 4 times more often in women than in men.
- Age. CFS commonly affects middle-aged people, but people of any age can get it.
Nourish Yourself With The Right Diet
Optimal nutrition is vital for overcoming any kind of chronic illness and related digestive issues. The right diet supplies the body with the proper balance of nutrients necessary for healing, acquired from foods that are naturally easy to digest, promote the growth of normal microbes in the gut, and support healthy metabolism.
To eat this way means leaving behind the processed food products that have come to dominate the modern food supply and are loaded with carbohydrates and toxic fat. These foods are mostly derived from processed forms of wheat, corn, soybeans, and sugar, all of which disrupt immune system function, communication, and all other systems in the body.
The best diet for overcoming chronic fatigue syndrome can be boiled down to six basic guidelines. Follow these, and youll quickly propel your recovery in a forward direction.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There’s a long list of possible symptoms that someone with chronic fatigue syndrome can have. The most common ones include:
- severe fatigue, which can make it hard to get out of bed and do normal daily activities
- sleep problems, such as trouble falling or staying asleep, or not having a refreshing sleep
- symptoms getting worse after physical or mental effort
- symptoms or dizziness that get worse after standing up or sitting upright from a lying down position
- problems with concentration and memory
- headaches and stomachaches
Chronic Fatigue Or Chronic Laziness
I am really tired right now. What I mean by right now is pretty much my entire life. Every morning when I wake up my first thought is I wonder when I can take a nap. Even while Im thinking it I realize the futility in this thought I havent actually taken a nap in months.
So last week while I was doing my usual work day multi-tasking eating lunch and working on a paper for one of my masters degree classes, I got sucked-in to the to the break room TV, which is perpetually on CNN, and caught a bit they were doing on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome . As I watched, I began to wonder, What constitutes chronic fatigue? Do I have it? Is it really a viable disorder? Whats the difference between chronic fatigue and chronic laziness?
Its been said that the pharmaceutical companies invent illnesses to get consumers to purchase their drugs. Anyone who watches TV at least a couple of times a week can attest to the barrage of pharmaceutical commercials which assault viewers, offering solutions to new categories of illnesses, illnesses which seem to be devised on a daily basis. Sometimes it makes me feel like screaming Im just trying to watch The Office, lay-off Pfizer!!!
Is CFS another one of these illnesses invented to help drug makers increase their bottom line?
On emedicinehealth.com , I found the following explanation about what CFS is
However, I think Ill try and get a bit more sleep before I get strapped to the tilt table.
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How Do I Know If I Have Me
The International Consensus Criteria defines Myalgic Encephalomyelitis as an acquired neurological disease with complex global dysfunctions.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is sometimes referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. However, this is gradually yet persistently changing, as many patient advocates and medical specialists find that this term to be inadequate and inaccurate. Some people use the term ME/CFS.
Do I Have ME?
Many of our readers report that they had a lightbulb moment when they first read the The International Consensus Criteria for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. This report was prepared by a panel medical clinicians and research scientists from around the world. Below you can find excerpts about assessment and diagnosis, plus links to the full text.
An increasing number of people with long COVID are now being diagnosed with ME.
Whats Post-Exertional Neuroimmune Exhaustion?
There are four categories listed below. The first is called Post-Exertional Neuroimmune Exhaustion
This is a confusing-sounding term which basically means: Your symptoms get worse after you do things.
You may start to feel worse immediately afterwards. Or several days later. You may feel worse for a short time. Or a long time. Or indefinitely.
Some people experience worsened symptoms after heavy activity and some people experience symptoms after light activity or mental activity .
Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There is no single test for diagnosing CFS. Care providers usually must consider many diagnostic factors and the results of several tests to rule out other conditions, such as:
- Sleep disorders
- Medical conditions like anemia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, IBS
- Mood disorders and other mental health problems, e.g. depression and anxiety
Making matters more complicated, many of the above conditions tend to be comorbid with CFS. That is, they exist simultaneously and have a synergistic effect .
To be diagnosed with CFS, symptoms must last for 6 months, be of new onset, and not be alleviated by rest.
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What Does The Person With Chronic Fatigue Go Through
Here are few possible symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome:
Other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms
Other symptoms that may be associated with CFS/ME include:
- Dizziness, palpitations, fainting, nausea on standing or sitting upright from a lying position.
- Increased sensitivity to temperature, causing increased sweating, chills, hot flushes or feeling very cold.
- Twitching and other abnormal uncontrolled body movements.
- Flu-like symptoms, including sore throat, tender glands, nausea, chills or muscle aches.
- Intolerance to alcohol, or to certain foods or chemicals.
- Increased sensitivities, including to light, sound, touch, taste and smell.
- Pain, including pain on touch, muscle pain, headaches, eye pain, tummy pain, or joint pain.
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Will I Still Be Able To Work With Me/cfs
Research shows that about half of people with ME/CFS work part-time or full-time jobs. For some people with ME/CFS, the ability to work is possible thanks to a supportive employer and certain workplace accommodations, including a flexible schedule, a quiet comfortable place to rest, and memory aids.
But, if you can’t work because of ME/CFS, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits. Learn more about applying for disability through the Social Security Administration.
Small Fiber Neuropathy And Dysautonomia
Chronic inflammation may damage nerve fibers that help control circulation, a condition called small fiber neuropathy. The damaged fibers, seen in skin biopsies, are associated with dysautonomia, a malfunction of automatic functions like heart rate, breathing, and digestion that is very common in long Covid patients.Keller
Just one small study provides evidence of small fiber neuropathy in long COVID, but many studies indicate its present in ME/CFS/FM. Keller, interestingly, embraces Systroms and others hypothesis that the SFN found in the skin is the most obvious but least troubling manifestation of an issue that has body-wide consequences and which includes the diversion of blood away from the muscles.
Dysautonomia, of course, is a common theme in ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and appears to be present in long COVID as well. Lower heart rate variability ratings that are indicative of sympathetic nervous system dominance, are found in ME/CFS, FM, POTS, and long COVID. A simple standing test that stresses the autonomic nervous system has been proposed as a diagnostic test by ME/CFS practitioners, and reduced heart rate variability measures were predictive of poor sleep.
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If Youre Tired All The Time With Extreme Fatigue That Cant Be Explained By Lifestyle Or Any Underlying Medical Conditions You May Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Also Known As Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
Weve all had days when were just plain tired. Maybe we hit the hay too late. Or we awoke early. Or we just had trouble falling or staying asleep.
But if youre tired all the time, you may start to worry that something else is going on. You may have chronic fatigue syndrome , also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis and often referred to as ME/CFS. Its a tough diagnosis to make because fatigue can be a symptom of many illnesses.
This complicated disorder is characterized by extreme fatigue that cant be explained by any underlying medical conditions. It may worsen with mental or physical activity. But it doesnt get better with rest. And its persistent and excessive.
Cause The cause of ME/CFS is unknown. Some theories range from stress to viral infections. Some believe its triggered by a combination of factors.
Symptoms Just because youre tired all the time doesnt mean you have ME/CFS. Fatigue can be associated with so many conditions. Plus, its often caused by lifestyle factors, not illness. With ME/CFS, the fatigue worsens even after mild exertion. You often have flu-like symptoms, brain fog and many other symptoms. Its been described as coming down with the flu but not getting better.
If you have CFS, you may have:
Many people with ME/CFS and FM are mistakenly diagnosed with depression first
I was lucky.
How Is Me/cfs Diagnosed
There is no single test to diagnose ME/CFS. Your doctor will diagnose ME/CFS based on your symptoms and how long you have had them. Your doctor may do some tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.
Patients can be diagnosed with ME/CFS only after they have had symptoms for 6 months or more.
Check your symptoms with the healthdirect Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
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How Do Doctors Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Doctors treat your symptoms, including pain, depression, and not being able to sleep. They also try:
Therapy to help you focus on positive thoughts and getting better
A graded exercise program, in which you slowly add activities to your daily routine, such as walking, swimming, cycling, or jogging
Usually the symptoms get better over time, but it may take years or they may not go away completely.
Continued Research Should Lead To Better Understanding And Treatments
A great deal more is known about ME/CFS today than 35 years ago. With continued and expanded support from the NIH, CDC, and private foundations dedicated to ME/CFS, I expect a lot of progress in the coming decade. Instead of doctors saying, The tests came back normal, there is nothing wrong, they will say, Tests showed us what was wrong, and we have treatments to fix it.
And doctors will recognize the wisdom of the wise advice we all learned in medical school: Listen to your patient. The patient is telling you the diagnosis.
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Can I Win Disability Benefits If I Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Getting tired is just a part of life. Every human follows the natural body clock known as the circadian rhythm. This means that they are alert and fresh when they wake up in the morning and they are tired late at night. However, some people are always tired, even when they wake up after having slept for at least 8 consecutive hours. You may be one of these people and you should know that you can hire a personal injury lawyer in Barrie to help you win disability benefits. You just need to know the following:
Take This Quiz To See If You Might Have Cfs Or Fibromyalgia
Wonder if you have CFS or fibromyalgia? If you have had severe fatigue or widespread pain lasting over three months without an obvious cause, and if you also have insomnia, then you might have chronic fatigue syndrome and/or fibromyalgia. The checklist below can help you assess the possibility of this. If your score indicates you might, then you should consult a physician to find out for sure.
The Checklist uses two sets of criteria to evaluate your posibility of having CFS or fibromyalgia. Questions 1-5 are based on criteria established by the CDC for evaluating a persons possibility of having CFS. Questions 6-10 are based on criteria established by the ACR for evaluating a persons possibility of having fibromyalgia.
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