What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is a debilitating condition causing extreme, long-term fatigue. It differs greatly from the fatigue that is normally experienced by all people at one time or another. Where a balanced diet and good night’s sleep can help correct the regular tiredness that is felt after heavy physical, mental or emotional exertion, this is not the case with CFS. Although many people regard this condition as a product of normal times (CFS was only formally recognized in 1988), medical literature from several hundred years ago have references to similar conditions presenting the same kind of symptoms and long lasting fatigue. Medical authorities nowadays define Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a state of fatigability that has persisted for over six months disrupting normal daily activity, without being attributable to any other identifiable condition. A major problem with CFS sufferers in the past has been actually establishing the disease as a real medical condition. One of the largest impediments to getting CFS recognized was the vast and varied symptoms that accompany it, along with the fact that may practitioners refused to accept it as a verifiable disease and believed the symptoms were all in the patient’s head. Even though it now appears that incidences of CFS are on the increase, it may well just be that greater understanding and recognition of the disease is leading to more accurate diagnosis.
What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
The exact cause or causes of this disease are unknown and there is a great deal of contention and speculation surrounding its origins. There is, however, a strong correlation between the onset of CFS and previous viral infections. In particular, the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), more commonly known as Glandular Fever, is indicated as a precursor to the onset of CFS for some people. This relationship has been explored through many clinical studies. Others suggest it is likely that a combination of factors contribute to the condition including viral infection, environmental toxins, nutritional deficiencies and emotional and psychological stress.
Chronic Fatigue Symptoms
There are many and varied symptoms that plague the CFS sufferer. What one may experience on a continual basis may not affect another at all. The predominating problem is the lingering and debilitating effects of extreme exhaustion. And to a greater or lesser extent, this is usually accompanied by some of the following;
- Muscle weakness
- Mild fever
- Recurrent headache
- Sore throat
- Painful lymph nodes
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Sleep problems
- Inability to concentrate.
The Road to Recovery
Diet, exercise and attitude are three important factors that play a crucial role in the CFS recovery process. Nutritional deficiencies can adversely affect a person’s health to the extent that body systems don’t function correctly and illness is created. It is difficult for many CFS sufferers to envisage themselves well and healthy, yet a positive frame of mind is crucial to recuperation. Also, despite the fact that sufferers are often bedridden through fatigue of mind and body, gentle regular exercise has been proven to greatly assist their mood, ability to handle stress, immunity and even improve energy and sleep patterns.