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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: What You Need to Know

By Camilla Moore August 04, 2022 Health and Fitness

If you are one of the millions who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, you know how debilitating it can be. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition that causes extreme tiredness and a lack of energy. It can make even the simplest tasks seem impossible.

In this blog post, we will discuss what chronic fatigue syndrome is, its symptoms, and possible treatments. We will also provide some tips for managing your condition.

What Is CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has several medical names: systemic exertion intolerance disease, encephalomyelitis chronic fatigue syndrome, and myalgic encephalomyelitis chronic fatigue. By whatever name, CFS is a complex and debilitating disorder characterized by severe fatigue that cannot be alleviated by rest.

The cause of CFS is unknown, but it involves a combination of physical, psychological, and environmental factors.

CFS can significantly impact every aspect of a person’s life, from their ability to work and socialize to their relationships and mental health. Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, but there are treatments that can help to manage the symptoms.

With the proper support, many people with CFS can lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Differential Diagnosis

Differential diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is difficult because there is no specific diagnostic test for the condition. However, there are several factors when making a diagnosis.

Take a Thorough Medical History

A thorough medical history will help to rule out any other obvious causes of chronic and severe fatigue. In addition, patients should be evaluated for additional physical symptoms often associated with CFS, such as poor sleep, joint pain, post-exertional malaise, and cognitive difficulties.

Patients can present with severe symptoms such as cognitive impairment, compromised immune system, tender lymph nodes, and disturbed sleep.

Blood Tests

No single test can diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome, but blood tests can rule out other illnesses. Common blood tests include:

  • a complete blood count
  • thyroid function tests
  • tests for autoimmune disorders

Sometimes, liver function tests or vitamin D levels may also be checked. Chronic fatigue syndrome is often difficult to diagnose because there are no specific diagnostic criteria. However, blood tests can help to rule out other potential causes of fatigue.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests, such as MRI and CT scans can help to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. In addition, they can provide valuable information about the brain and nervous system. Imaging tests may not be able to cure chronic fatigue syndrome, but they can provide critical insights that can help patients and doctors better understand the condition.

Diagnosis Criteria

Several criteria diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome, including specific symptoms for at least six months and excluding other conditions that could cause fatigue.

In addition, people with chronic fatigue syndrome often have difficulty sleeping, concentration problems, and joint and muscle pain. While there is no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, treatments such as exercise and counseling can help to manage the symptoms.

Other Common Causes of Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom caused by various conditions and can mimic symptoms of CFS. Here are five of the most common causes of fatigue:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which red blood cells are deficient. Anemia can lead to fatigue, pale skin, and shortness of breath.

Thyroid Disease

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause fatigue. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone, while hyperthyroidism occurs when it makes too much. Other symptoms of thyroid disease include weight changes, insomnia, and mood swings.

Sleep Disorders

A variety of sleep disorders can cause fatigue during the day. These include insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.

Depression

Depression is a common mental health disorder that can cause feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and exhaustion. Fatigue is a common symptom of depression. If you think you may have depression, contact your doctor or therapist immediately for help.

Viral Infection

Several viral infections can cause fatigue.

  1. The Epstein-Barr virus causes mononucleosis or “mono,” and fatigue is often one of the first symptoms to appear. The fatigue associated with mono can be severe, and it can last for several weeks or even months.
  2. The influenza virus can cause fatigue. The fatigue associated with the flu is often less extreme than mono, but it can still be debilitating.
  3. Lyme Disease is an infection transmitted by a tick and can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, and muscle aches. If you are experiencing fatigue, it is essential to see your doctor determine the cause.

Treatment and Management

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex disorder that can be difficult to treat. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and treatment often involves a combination of different therapies. However, common treatments focus on lifestyle changes and supporting the body as it heals.

Medication for Physical or Mental Activity

Common medications used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome include antidepressants, pain relievers, and sleeping pills.

Antidepressants may help to improve mood and sleeping patterns, while pain relievers can help to relieve muscle pain and headaches.

Sleeping pills can treat chronic fatigue syndrome-related insomnia.

Regular Exercise

Physical activity can help to increase energy levels, improve sleep quality, and reduce pain. It can also help to improve mood and reduce stress levels.

It is essential to start slowly and gradually increasing your workouts’ intensity. Otherwise, you may aggravate your symptoms and make your condition worse.

Diet and Nutrition for Disease Control

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help increase energy levels and improve overall health. In addition, avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks can help to reduce chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.

Making dietary changes can be challenging, but working with a Registered Dietitian can help to create a plan that meets your individual needs.

With the right approach, diet and nutrition can be essential in managing chronic fatigue syndrome.

Meditation

The many benefits of meditation have been well-documented. In recent years, western science has provided even more evidence of the positive effects of meditation. For example, studies have shown that meditation can help to improve chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive function, heart health, and immunity.

In addition, meditation is an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. With so many proven benefits, it’s no wonder that many people are turning to meditation to improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy used for centuries to treat various ailments. In recent years, acupuncture has become an alternative treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome.

Acupuncture is believed to help treat CFS by restoring balance to the body and improving circulation. Research on the effectiveness of acupuncture for CFS is still in its early stages, but there is some evidence to suggest that it may help reduce symptoms.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy uses cold water as treatment. Cryotherapy can help to reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and boost energy levels. Studies show it may also help ease some other symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndromes, such as pain and sleep problems. For example, a recent study showed patients with CFS improved in symptoms with cryotherapy and static stretching.

Home-based cryotherapy baths are becoming increasingly popular. However, as with any new therapy, consult your doctor before trying any further treatment.

Supplements and Vitamins

Supplements and vitamins are effective in treating chronic fatigue syndrome. For example, Coenzyme Q10, magnesium, and vitamin B12 have all been shown to help improve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

In addition, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, which can also help to relieve symptoms.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing chronic fatigue syndrome, incorporating supplements, vitamins, and natural remedies into your treatment plan may help you to find relief.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Aging

As we age, fatigue becomes a more common symptom. In addition, hormone changes decrease physical activity, and chronic health conditions can contribute to increased fatigue.

Fatigue can also signify underlying severe disorders, such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Although CFS can occur at any age, it is most common in adults over 60. Recently, there has been new evidence linking CFS to Covid-19 infections. Therefore, if you are experiencing fatigue, it is essential to talk to your doctor about all of your symptoms to make a proper diagnosis.

How about you? Have you experienced symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? How do you manage your symptoms?

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor to get specific medical advice for your situation.

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The Author

Dr. Camilla Moore is a Lifestyle Medicine Chiropractor and a freelance medical and health writer. She is a self-published author and you can read her other articles at her blog, The Wellness Cabinet where she writes about exercise, fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness.

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Brenda Tucker

take Nuvigil 50 mg early am & it is working…

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