Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complex and debilitating disorder typified by extreme fatigue.
What is problematic with this condition is that it is not easy to cure. Sufferers of this condition cannot simply go to bed and wake up refreshed and mental and physical activity can make the condition worse. In extreme cases, the patient’s health deteriorates to the point where they are bedridden. This post briefly examines the main aspects of what CFS is about and what has been researched to help alleviate the condition.
The causes of CFS have yet to be determined and understood, but experts so far have suggested that CFS can be caused by:
- Immune system diseases
- Interaction with toxins
- Tense situations
- Genetic disorders
- A combination of the above
CFS affects several body systems. Aside from its central symptom, which is how chronic fatigue syndrome derives its name, the disorder has eight official symptoms, which are:
- Impaired concentration or memory
- Profound exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after mental or physical exercise
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Headache of a new type, severity or pattern
- Joint pain that travels from one joint to another without redness or swelling
- Unexplained muscle pain
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Sore throat
CFS has proven difficult for physicians to diagnose. There is no standard test to identify CFS, and the symptoms are similar to other illnesses. So, it is mainly a process of elimination, first ruling out other causes before identifying the condition is CFS.
However, once correctly identified, medical experts are able to help sufferers comprehend the scope of the illness and to assist in helping patients to cope with it.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a disorder that can be devastating, not only to the patient, but to loved ones around them. This is mainly down to the unpredictability of the illness. One day the sufferer has the energy, the next day they do not have enough to be active. It is imperative that CFS sufferers allow themselves rest time to help with the physical exhaustion and emotions experienced with the illness, as not every day will they be able to perform their daily functions.
Patients experience many difficulties, which include:
- Worries about coping in day-to-day life
- Alterations in relationships
- Loss of livelihood, independence and financial security
- Impaired memory
- Unpredictable and changing symptoms
- CFS suffers also experience a great deal of negativity from those around them who do not understand the illness, which adds more emotional strain in their lives. Because chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating disease, living with the disorder can be difficult. Daily lives are interrupted, and major lifestyle changes are necessary to adapt to limitations.
There is no agreement amongst the medical fraternity on how to treat the condition as most doctors believe that there is no cure for the condition. It is just a question on how to manage the symptoms for each individual sufferer. This has led to much debate and controversary on the nest form of treatment, but the main approaches are holistic, and currently are:
- Prescription medications
- Lifestyle changes
- Nutritional supplements
- Graded exercise therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Other alternative/complementary treatments
Prescriptions and Medications
There is no definitive drug or prescription type for CFS and depends upon the severity of the condition and the symptoms. Drugs are normally prescribed for:
Depression-Antidepressants. Studies have shown that antidepressants in low doses does help mood, relieve pain and improve sleep.
Insomnia- Prescription sleep aids may also be prescribed to help individuals improve their sleep.
Other drugs that may be prescribed include antiviral drugs, ADD/ADHD medications and anti-anxiety drugs.
Struggling with CFS normally means that the patient will have to make some life style changes to their everyday life. This may involve changing the pace of their work routine to help lower stress levels, introduce moderate exercise, change their diet and try to improve their sleeping habits.
Experts believe that diet is a major consideration for alleviating CFS as inflammation appears to play a role in chronic fatigue. It is recommended that avoiding sugar, fried foods, and processed meat, helps to reduce the condition. It is suggested to replace these foods with fish and olive oil.
Once again, there is very little medical evidence to suggest that nutritional supplements assist with alleviating CFS and mixed results ranging from not working at all to very helpful in combatting CFS. Normally a doctor will recommend a nutritional supplement to address a deficiency and its related symptoms. Before starting a supplemental regime, it is always recommended that you consult with your doctor on such a course of action.
Graded Exercise Therapy
A physical therapist can help determine the best exercises for the individual. Programs will start with low levels of exercising, increasing the intensity as the individual gradually builds strength and endurance.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps individuals to interpret their symptoms, which in turn helps the patient to shape their behavior in a way to better react to the symptoms.
Alternative Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment
While the usefulness of alternative/complementary therapy may still be controversial in the scientific community, many patients experience tremendous benefits from these. Main ones include:
- Chiropractic and physical therapy
- Hypnotherapy and biofeedback
- Massage, Reiki, Rolfing, and other bodywork
Emotional support and counseling are also recommended for individuals with CFS, and most report that group sessions are very therapeutic.
Bonus 1 If you wish to learn more about CFS (The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Solution) and how to combat the condition, click on this link for further information on what is currently known about the condition and the exact steps that could be taken by adopting an all-natural approach and is, therefore, free from side effects.