Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)

ME/CFS affects up to 2.5 million Americans, according to research.

People with ME/CFS are unable to carry out their regular routines. People with ME/CFS may be forced to go to bed at times. 

People who have ME/CFS have intense exhaustion that does not lessen with rest. After any activity, whether it's physical or mental, ME/ CFS may worsen (PEM).

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating and complex disorder characterised by extreme fatigue, flu-like symptoms, muscle and joint pain, memory impairment, and mood changes (Narcolepsy). 

ME/CFS can dramatically reduce a person's quality of life, making even the simplest tasks difficult to accomplish. There is no known cause or cure for ME/CFS, which is why research into the condition is so important.

Despite the lack of a clear understanding of ME/CFS, some treatments can help lessen its symptoms. Some people with ME/CFS find relief from therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or graded exercise therapy (GET).

How is ME/CFS diagnosed?

There is no one-size-fits-all diagnostic test for ME/CFS, so diagnosis can be difficult. A doctor will typically need to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms before making a diagnosis of ME/CFS. 

There are several tools and questionnaires that doctors may use to help make a diagnosis, including the Canadian Clinical Definition, the Fukuda Definition, and the ME/CFS Diagnostic Criteria.

What are the symptoms of CFS?

The symptoms of ME/CFS can vary from person to person, but often include extreme fatigue, flu-like symptoms, muscle and joint pain, memory impairment, and mood changes. 

PEM, or post-exertional malaise, is a hallmark symptom of ME/CFS and occurs after any physical or mental activity. This leads to a significant decrease in energy levels and can cause the worsening of other symptoms.

There is no known cure for ME/CFS, though treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) can help lessen its symptoms.

Other Symptoms:

  • People who have ME/CFS are not able to function in the same way they previously could.
  • People who have ME/CFS may not be able to do simple activities such as showering or cooking.
  • People with ME/CFS are frequently unable to maintain a job, attend school, or participate in other social activities.
  • Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) can last for years and has the potential to become quite debilitating.
  • At least one in four ME/CFS patients are confined to a bed or the house for lengthy periods during the illness.

ME/CFS affects anyone. While the disorder generally strikes individuals between the ages of 40 and 60, it can also affect youngsters, teens, and adults of all ages. Women are more likely to be affected by ME/CFS than men. 

Whites are diagnosed more frequently than other races and ethnicities. However, many people with ME/CFS have not been diagnosed.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

What is the cause of ME/CFS?

The cause of CFS is unknown, though there are several theories about what may play a role in the development of the condition. These include viral infections, immune system abnormalities, and hormonal imbalances.

ME/CFS is not contagious, meaning you cannot catch it from another person.

What are some treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome?

As there is no specific treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, there are various lines of treatments available to manage the symptoms of CFS :

  • Depression - Depression is one of the common issues that most people with long-term health problems struggle with. 

To deal with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, treating your depression could be the first step. To improve your sleep and relieve the pain, you can consider low doses of antidepressants (Sleep for kids). 

However, you should take the advice of a medical practitioner before commencing with any such medication.

  • Pain naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) are some of the over-the-counter medications that help in alleviating pain. 

You generally don't need any prescription for such medicines and they are safe to be taken in small doses for a certain period. 

Prescription drugs such as fibromyalgia are generally used when over-the-counter medications are not giving any significant impact. 

Gabapentin (Neurontin), Pregabalin (Lyrica), amitriptyline, or duloxetine (Cymbalta) are some of the prescribed medications that can help you with chronic pain.

  • Orthostatic intolerance - Standing or sitting upright for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome may make them feel faint or nauseated. There are several medications available to regulate blood pressure or heart rhythms. It can help evade such health issues.

Therapeutic Treatments

Many people with chronic fatigue syndrome benefit from:

  • Counselling - Being able to communicate honestly with a counsellor can aid in the development of coping skills for dealing with chronic disease, addressing job or school challenges, and enhancing family dynamics. It may also assist in the management of depression.
  • Addressing sleep problems - Sleep deprivation might make additional symptoms more challenging to deal with. Caffeine or shifting your sleeping hours may be suggested by your doctor as a remedy for sleep deprivation. A machine that delivers air pressure through a mask while you sleep can cure sleep apnea, which is caused by breathing obstructions during sleep.
  • Exercise - For some people, aggressive exercise routines exacerbate their symptoms. However, maintaining tolerable activities is critical for preventing deconditioning. Slow and progressive exercise regimens that start with low intensity and gradually increase over time may aid in the long-term maintenance of function.
treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome

    Post-exertional malaise

    After the physical, mental, or emotional activity, people with chronic fatigue syndrome experience an increase in their symptoms. This is known as post-exertional malaise. It can last for a few days or weeks after the activity.

    If you are struggling with post-exertional malaise, a good balance between activity and rest is challenging for you. You should focus on being active without pushing yourself too hard.

    If you're experiencing a lot of symptoms and have been told you need to up your activity level, you should keep track of how much exercise is too much for you in a journal.

    This may help you avoid pushing yourself too hard on the days when you feel well, leading to a "crash" where you feel significantly worse later.

    Who is at risk for developing chronic fatigue syndrome?

    The risk of chronic fatigue syndrome can be extended to anyone. Although the specific cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not yet identified, still the expert believes that the following people are at a higher risk than others:

    Genes

    The researchers confirm that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome runs in families. It has been seen that people inherit the risk of this syndrome from their parents.

    It is also conceivable that how genes are made is less essential than whether they are turned on or off properly — differences in gene activity. Within white blood cells and other components of the body, people with ME/CFS have variations in gene activity. 

    Several studies have discovered that genes responsible for activating the immune system are more likely to be activated in persons

    Both how genes are made and what happens in the environment - infections, poisons, diet, stress, exercise routines, and other factors - can cause illness. This may apply to ME/CFS as well.

    Gender and Age

    Women are four times more likely to get CFS as compared to men. Although this condition is rare in children, still there are possible chances that the child that has CFS running in his family may develop CFS. 

    In children, often girls are more suspected of CFS than boys. In teenagers, this illness is likely to be seen in the age group of 13 -15 years. In adults, most people aged between 30-and 50 years are likely to encounter this syndrome.

     Gender and Age

    What are the other conditions that people with CFS can suffer from?

    There is a higher possibility that people with CFS may suffer from the following illness along with CFS:

    • Chronic pelvic pain in women
    • Post-concussion syndrome
    • Temporomandibular disorders (TMD or TMJ)
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
    • Chronic prostatitis in men
    • Tension and headache
    • Interstitial cystitis, which causes pain in the bladder or pelvis
    • Multiple chemical sensitivities
    • Fibromyalgia

    How can I help someone with CFS?

    You may assist by doing things like taking on tasks that the person with CFS or FM is no longer capable of doing, offering transportation to doctor appointments, and so on. Some assistance is practical, such as giving a listening ear or some assurance.

    The severity of symptoms, as well as sometimes the illness's course, are influenced by a person's lifestyle. The effects are so significant that changing one's lifestyle is the treatment of choice for both diseases. 

    But CFS can be best managed with adaptation and lifestyle. No diet, no herb, and no supplement can help you to cope with CFS unless you will consider lifestyle changes.

    You can probably expect some sort of return on your investment if you offer to help. 

    You may be able to anticipate a lot more from individuals in your life if you give assistance to a friend or loved one. For example, if you assist your loved one in pacing herself, she will have a more predictable existence, lowering anxiety for herself and those around them.

    Improving your daily activity

    The ability to change one's life and slow down is the most effective way of fighting illnesses. 

    Pacing, which means matching activity level to the restrictions imposed by disease, is perhaps the most essential lifestyle modification in terms of symptom management and increasing the probability of recovery. 

    In contrast to battling one's body with repeated cycles of push and crash, someone who is pacing lives a more relaxed life that is within her abilities.

    Pacing is hard work, it requires vigilance and constant tweaking, but it can be done. It means being very honest with yourself about what you can and cannot do on any given day.

     It also means taking into account all the stressors in your life - from work to relationships to running a household - and trying to even out the load.

    Managing Special Events

    People with CFS and/or FM have a difficult time when anything unusual takes place, whether it's a holiday getaway, a family gathering, or even dinner for guests. 

    These non-routine activities demand more energy than normal life, which can easily lead to a relapse. If you can help out with some of the preparations - like grocery shopping, cleaning, or cooking - it can make the event much less stressful for the person with CFS or FM.

    If you are not able to help out in advance, try to arrive early so that you can do as much as possible to take the load off your loved one. If the event is taking place at your home, be sure to have a comfortable place for your loved one to rest. 

    And finally, be understanding if she needs to leave early or take a break during the event.

    Dealing with Cognitive Problems

    Cognitive problems, also known as brain fog or fibro fog, are common in people with CFS and fibromyalgia. These issues include confusion, lack of attention, trouble finding the right words, and short-term memory loss.

    People with cognitive problems may have difficulty completing tasks at home or work, or even remembering what they did earlier in the day. The problem can be so severe that some people feel like they are living in a fog all the time.

    There is no one-size-fits-all answer for dealing with cognitive problems, but there are a few things that may help. First, it is important to understand that these problems are common and are not a sign of weakness or incompetence. 

    It also helps to keep a diary of tasks completed and activities undertaken each day, as well as any notes about how you felt at the time. This can help you to track patterns and identify potential causes of cognitive problems.

    Another useful tool is a list of words that are difficult to remember. Keep this list with you at all times, and use it when you are struggling to come up with the right word. 

    Finally, try to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable parts. This will make them less overwhelming and more manageable.

    Dealing with Cognitive Problems

    Living with Pain

    Pain is a common and debilitating symptom of both CFS and FM. It can range from mild to severe and can affect any part of the body. 

    In addition to pain, people with these diseases may also experience fatigue, muscle weakness, and problems with memory and concentration.

    There is no one-size-fits-all answer for dealing with pain, but there are a few things that may help. First, it is important to understand that pain is common and is not a sign of weakness or incompetence. 

    It also helps to keep a diary of activities undertaken each day, as well as any notes about how you felt at the time. This can help you to track patterns and identify potential causes of pain.

    Another useful tool is the pain scale. This will help you to track the severity of your pain and to see if there are any patterns or triggers that you can identify. Finally, try to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable parts. 

    This will make them less overwhelming and more manageable.

    Managing Stress

    You mustn't put unnecessary stress on yourself by accepting unrealistic goals. Rest is just as vital as an activity when it comes to pacing. 

    You have to allow your body time to heal between bouts of activity. Pacing is about finding a balance for yourself, one that is tailored to your own specific needs and abilities.

    You may also want to consider yoga, meditation, or any other form of relaxation technique. These practices can help you to learn how to focus and control your thoughts, which will in turn help you to better manage stress.

    There are several different ways that you can manage stress, and you must find what works best for you. 

    What matters most is that you take the time to relax and de-stress regularly. This will help to improve your overall quality of life, as well as your ability to cope with stressors when they do come up.

    Many individuals with CFS and fibromyalgia are selective about what they view on television and in films, avoiding shows that have emotional peaks and changes quickly. 

    Family and friends can assist the individual by learning what circumstances cause stress for their loved ones and attempting to find methods to control or avoid them.

    Avoidance of stressful situations is one of the most effective stress management techniques. 

    This might include avoiding foods and other chemicals that cause allergy responses, as well as limiting or lowering exposure to bright light, noise, and crowds.

    Improving Sleep

    Both fibromyalgia and CFS have a common issue of troublesome sleep. People with these illnesses often have difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep, and waking up feeling refreshed. 

    To improve your sleep, you may want to try some of the following tips:

    • Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as closely as possible
    • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
    • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool
    • Avoid working or using electronic devices in bed
    • Get up and move around every few hours to keep your body active
    • Practice some relaxation techniques before bedtime
    • Consider using a noise machine or earplugs to block out noise

    You must find what sleep hygiene practices work best for you and stick to them. By doing so, you will be more likely to get the sleep you need and feel rested when you wake up (Also refer to Sleep hypnosis).

    There are many different ways that you can manage your chronic fatigue syndrome. You must find what works best for you and stick with it. With time and patience, you can improve your quality of life and find relief from your symptoms.

    There are many different ways that you can manage your chronic fatigue syndrome. You must find what works best for you and stick with it. With time and patience, you can improve your quality of life and find relief from your symptoms.

    CFS is a complex illness that requires a great deal of adaptation to manage. But with a little help from friends and loved ones, it is possible to live a full and productive life.

    Living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    CFS is a complex illness that can be difficult to manage. But with the right tools and support, it is possible to live a full and productive life. 

    You must find what works best for you and stick to it. By doing so, you will be more likely to get the sleep you need and feel rested when you wake up. With time and patience, you can manage your chronic fatigue syndrome and find relief from your symptoms.

    FAQ

    Can chronic fatigue syndrome be cured?

    No. currently no cure is available for chronic fatigue syndrome. The treatment for this disease is focused on curing only the symptoms. Extreme tiredness is one major symptom of ME/CFS. It is more common among women. 

    Is CFS a mental illness?

    Under the Oxford dictionary, CFS is defined as a somatoform psychiatric mental health disorder. However, most psychiatrists in the UK defined CFS as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    Is ME CFS the same as chronic fatigue syndrome?

    Yes, ME CFS is the same as chronic fatigue syndrome.

    Can you get rid of ME CFS?

    As mentioned above, there is no permanent treatment for ME CFS. Only the chronic symptoms can be managed or treated to provide some relief to the patient.

    Is chronic fatigue syndrome serious?

    Yes, it is a serious and long-term illness that harms the whole body system. Patients suffering from CFS syndrome are unable to perform their daily activities. In the most severe cases, the patients are not even able to get out of their bed.

    Conclusion

    CFS is a complex disease that requires a lot of adaptation to manage. However, with the help of family and friends, it is possible to live a full and productive life. 

    Whether it means taking on some additional tasks for the person with CFS or just being understanding and supportive, friends and loved ones can make a big difference.


    Recent blog posts

    View all
    Example blog post
    Example blog post
    Example blog post