Chronic fatigue syndrome refers to severe, continued tiredness that is not relieved by rest and can’t be attributed to another medical condition. It’s also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID). Chronic fatigue syndrome is a difficult condition to experience and to treat; it affects several of the body’s systems and rarely has a definitive cause. It’s likely that most people who suffer from this condition haven’t been diagnosed with it. Because of the opacity of the origins and mechanics of chronic fatigue syndrome, treatments are management-based.
Causes for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The exact cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is unknown. However, some theories suggest CFS may be due to various factors, or a combination of factors, such as:
- An inappropriate immune system response to an unknown agent: the body decides it needs to fight something off when there is no clear cause for why.
- A viral infection: many people who suffer from CSF say it started after an infection like mono or the flu.
- Psychological stress or disorders: certain mood disorders as well as depression/anxiety can contribute to or be a symptom of chronic fatigue.
- Physical trauma: some people have reported that the onset of chronic fatigue occurred after a major body trauma like injury or surgery.
The causes of this condition are so poorly understood that there aren’t any tests for diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome. Instead, doctors throw every scan, test and diagnostic in the book at a patient to rule out any and all other possible causes for the fatigue.
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The list of possible symptoms for this syndrome is huge. Many overlap with symptoms of other problems, like autoimmune disorders or thyroid imbalances. However, doctors in chronic fatigue syndrome treatment note that there are a few symptom groups they refer to as “core” symptoms. All of these issues must last more than 6 months for a diagnosis:
- Chronic sleep problems: Patients either have an inability to go to sleep and/or stay asleep, or when they do get adequate sleep it never makes them feel rested.
- Inability to do everyday activities: Patients with this disorder develop and long-term and chronic issue with participating in normal activities they never had problems with before the onset of the symptoms. Chronic pain may also go along with this symptom group.
- PEM (Post-exertional malaise): PEM refers to an extreme worsening of fatigue symptoms with even the smallest activity that would normally not cause tiredness, like getting up to go to the bathroom, or walking up the stairs in your house.
There are many other symptoms that might present with chronic fatigue syndrome, because these core symptoms cause a cascade effect. Sleep and regular activity involve nearly every system in the body. So people with this syndrome often have memory issues, problems focusing or thinking straight, as well as debilitating vertigo.
Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Because chronic fatigue syndrome is so poorly understood, treatment options are usually more of management programs than anything. Currently, this condition has no known cure in conventional medicine, just as it has no known cause. Because there are so many symptoms that vary from patient to patient, doctors treating chronic fatigue syndrome use the patient’s specific problems to form a treatment plan. Treatments tend to focus on lifestyle habits and holistic interventions.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a long-term condition with an extremely low recovery rate, so it’s a good idea to see a doctor who specializes in holistic and regenerative medicine. Often detoxification from enviromental poisons is important. Changes in diet, supplements, yoga, massage, following a gentle exercise routine, and therapy/counseling are just some treatment options. Our health and wellness centers specialize in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, which physicians are not typically trained to treat in med school. If you think you might be suffering from this condition, or have received a diagnosis but so far no treatment has been effective, give our office a call today. We specialize in natural and comprehensive treatments of many chronic conditions like this one.