Fatigue affects everyone at some point in life. Whether it is caused by working too hard, exercising too much, or just staying up too late, fatigue is a often a common occurrence. But what do you do when fatigue is having a negative impact on your ability to carry out daily tasks? Well, if you are suffering from debilitating fatigue that just won’t go away you may be experiencing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Chronic fatigue syndrome is a serious illness that can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms in addition to fatigue. And unfortunately, CFS can have a severe impact on your mental, physical, and emotional health. However, there are some medical and botanical chronic fatigue treatments available.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
CFS is a chronic disorder that is characterized by debilitating fatigue. Worsened by physical and mental exertion, this fatigue is long lasting and is not improved by increased rest or sleep. CFS can also cause a number of other physical symptoms and many sufferers experience these symptoms for months or years on end. Thought to affect more than 500,000 men and women throughout the United States, there is no cure available for CFS. However, a combination of medical and alternative treatments often helps to reduce the intensity of CFS symptoms.
What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
To date, the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is still unknown, but it is believed that there are probably a number of different factors that contribute to the disease. Possible causes may include:
- Viruses: Viruses, including the Epstein-Barr virus that causes mono, may play a role in triggering CFS. CFS often occurs in those who have just recovered from previous illness.
- Immune Dysfunction: CFS may be caused by an immune system dysfunction, that prevents the body from fighting off infection. Many CFS patients also suffer from immune disorders.
- Nutritional Deficiency: Nutritional deficiencies, including iron-deficiency anemia, may play a role in contributing to CFS. This is supported by the fact that a balanced diet often helps to drastically improve symptoms.
Who Gets Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
CFS affects many different men and women from all around the world. However, the disease does appear to affect more women than men. In fact, if you are female you are three times more likely to experience CFS. People between the ages of 30 and 50 are also more likely to suffer from the illness.
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The main symptom of CFS is persistent fatigue that lasts for at least six months. This fatigue gets worse upon physical or mental exertion and is not improved by sleep or rest. In addition to this debilitating fatigue, CFS also causes a number of other symptoms including:
- unexplained muscle soreness
- sore throat
- swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck and underarms
- memory loss
- difficulty concentrating
- sleep difficulties
Complications of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Because CFS is often a long-term illness and has such a devastating effect on daily life, many sufferers often develop:
- panic attacks
- weight loss
Treating Chronic Fatigue
Unfortunately, there is no cure for CFS. However, a number of treatments have proved effective when it comes to reducing the symptoms associated with the illness. It is often recommended that CFS patients try a combination of treatments in order to find what works best for them. Treatments include:
- Medication: Medications can be prescribed to help relieve muscle pain, headaches, and fatigue. Certain antidepressants are also helpful when it comes to managing mood and anxiety disorders caused by CFS.
- Exercise: Though it may seem contraindicated, exercise is actually an integral part of managing CFS. Without exercise, the body deteriorates more rapidly, making symptoms worse. Gradual, light exercise helps to condition the body and increase energy.
- Diet Many CFS sufferers find that their symptoms are much improved when they maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Focus on eating natural foods, including fruits and vegetables. Avoid fatty, fried foods and alcoholic beverages.
- Alternative Treatment: Alternative therapies including massage, acupuncture, and hypnosis provide relief for many CFS sufferers.