Chronic fatigue syndrome

Do you always feel tired in spite of taking adequate rest? Is it troubling you over weeks to several months? Then do not neglect as you might be having chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Chronic fatigue syndrome is an extreme state of tiredness which does not go even after a satisfactory sleep or rest. It is a debilitating disorder which lasts for a long time and interferes with your daily activities.

The primary chronic fatigue syndrome symptom is severe tiredness which can last for as long as 6 months or even more in some patients. Additionally, you may have at least four of the below symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Joint pain (involving many joints)
  • Muscle pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Feeling uneasy for at least 24 hours after physical activity
  • Memory problems
  • Tender lymph nodes

Based on the severity of your symptoms, CFS is classified as below:

Mild: You can take care of yourself but may need some rest frequently

Moderate: You will have difficulty in moving and may need an afternoon nap

Severe: You will have difficulty concentrating and a drastic decrease in mobility

The exact cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is not known. The possible causes could be hypotension (low blood pressure), viral or bacterial attacks, weak immune system, stress, and hormonal imbalances. CFS can also occur in people with genetic predisposure.

Below are the risk factors for chronic fatigue syndrome:

Elderly: CFS can occur in people of any age group. However, it is more common in people aging 40’s and 50’s.

Gender: Women outnumber men by nearly four times in getting CFS as per the statistics provided by CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

Other factors include genetic predisposition, stress, allergies and environmental factors.

Chronic fatigue syndrome if not addressed timely can lead to certain complications such as:

  • Depression
  • Regular absenteeism at work
  • Social withdrawal

Lifestyle restrictions

As the symptoms of CFS are similar to the other conditions, it is advisable not to self-diagnose but to consult a doctor instead. Even for a physician, it is challenging to diagnose CFS as the symptoms are common with many other medical conditions.

There are no laboratory tests available for diagnosing CFS. If you have at least four of the above symptoms in addition to severe fatigue for more than 6 months, then you might be diagnosed to have CFS. Further assessments include:

  • Review of medical history including those causing fatigue and other related symptoms
  • A thorough physical and mental-state examination
  • A battery of laboratory tests to rule out other possible conditions for the symptoms

A complete cure is not possible but chronic fatigue syndrome treatment involves management of the condition and its symptoms. Your doctor chooses the best treatment plan for you from the main treatments detailed as below:

Medications

  • Antidepressants are given to cope up with your illness. Low doses can also help in improving sleep.
  • Sleeping pills may be recommended when other home remedies are not effective.

Exercise

  • A structured exercise program called the graded exercise therapy is suggested by your physiotherapist. It begins with stretches and range-of-motion exercises for few days. Follow these specific exercises without fail.

Psychological counseling

  • A psychological counselor can help you find ways to overcome the limitations with CFS.

By taking certain steps, you can overcome the trouble with the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome:

Make the best during your peak energy hours: Do your routines when your energy levels are high. If possible maintain a dairy and note down the timings of your high energy. If you notice a pattern in this, plan your work accordingly.

Do not overdo: Take charge as per your energy levels. However, do not work too hard as you may become over tired and it may become difficult for you to recover.

Improve your sleep: Follow a regular schedule of going to bed and getting up in the morning. This helps you to have a better sleep. It is advisable to avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, etc. which can affect your night’s sleep.

Stretch every day: Regular gentle exercise is quite helpful. You may perform stretches instead of vigorous exercises.

Take care with medications: If you have joint or muscle pain, you may take non-prescription medicines such as acetaminophen, naproxen or ibuprofen.

Eat a balanced diet: Eat fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, grains, fish, low-fat dairy and lean meat such as skinless chicken, red meat, etc. on a regular basis.

Reduce stress: Adopt best techniques which are more suitable for you to overcome stress. Follow relaxation techniques such as breathing, listening to music, dancing, playing your favorite and simple games, etc.