The chronic fatigue syndrome is one of the harshest, yet mysterious chronic medical conditions out there. And while many people have heard about it, not many of them mai actually know what it means to live life with the chronic fatigue syndrome. If you are among them, or if you have been diagnosed with the chronic fatigue syndrome and you want to learn more about your life from now on, then you should definitely read on.
1- What is the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Actually?
The chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by a set of medical conditions that make the patient feel significantly fatigue for more than 6 months in a row. During this period, the fatigue is neither influenced by exertion nor by getting rest and there are not any other medical conditions that cause this syndrome to develop.
2- Is the Name of this Syndrome Right?
Chronic fatigue syndrome is known under many other names (including myalgic encephalitis, post-viral fatigue syndrome and chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome). However, this syndrome is most well-known to be the “chronic fatigue syndrome” and although some people argue that the name is not right because it makes the syndrome appear trivial, up to the moment this has remained the most popular way to refer to this particular set of medical conditions.
3- Can the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Develop in the Case of Children as Well?
Yes, the chronic fatigue syndrome can develop in the case of children and adolescents as well. However, in their case, the diagnose is made after 3 months of significant fatigue (instead of 6 months, such as in the case of the adults).
4- Is the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Actually Understood?
Research is made every day, but the truth is that the chronic fatigue syndrome has not yet been completely understood. Up to the moment, several theories have been advanced, some of which include psychological factors, genetic factors, biological factors and even infection-related factors among those that influence the development of this syndrome.
5- Which are the Main Symptoms Experienced by Those Who Suffer from This Medical Condition?
The chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by a series of symptoms which include malaise, sleeping badly and not refreshingly, muscle and joint pain, headaches, cognitive difficulties, physical exhaustion (and psychological exhaustion as well) and so on. Furthermore, some of the patients also experience depression, digestive issues, muscle weakness, light sensitivity, painful lymph nodes and even cardio-respiratory issues.
6- Which are The Causes that Lead to The Development of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Some of the researchers out there believe that certain viruses can trigger the development of the chronic fatigue syndrome. For instance, some of them believe that the Epstein-Barr and the mouse leukemia virus may be responsible for the development of this syndrome. Other researchers believe that this syndrome’s development is caused by various types of hormonal imbalances (such as abnormal levels of hormones produced by the adrenal gland, by the pituitary gland and by the hypothalamus gland).
All in all, researchers have not yet been able to reach a final conclusion precisely because the chronic fatigue syndrome can be confusing and its symptoms can sometimes overlap with those that are encountered in the case of other syndromes and medical conditions.
7- Is the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Encountered Often?
Fatigue is, of course, a quite commonly encountered symptom in many diseases and medical conditions out there. Chronic fatigue syndrome, on the other hand, is quite rare when it is compared to the symptom that appears with other medical conditions. Furthermore, it can be completely misunderstood even by some of the medical professionals out there.
8- How Does the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Appear?
In most of the cases, the chronic fatigue syndrome appears suddenly and there is no real moment to trigger that you may be developing it. In many cases, the onset of the syndrome is mistaken as a simple flu and patients reach their doctors later on.
9- How do People Live with the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
This syndrome’s symptoms differ from one person to another and while some of the patients out there experience mild symptoms, the truth is that others feel completely bed-ridden by the syndrome. Other patients experience periods of having to reduce their activity by a lot (and in some of the cases, these periods are quite extended).
10- Are there Relapses of the Syndrome?
Yes, and this is why you have to be very careful with getting back to your normal life. If you start feeling better, do not overextend your activities because this can worsen your symptoms and it can cause the syndrome to relapse.
11- Can Patients with the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Work?
Again, this depends a lot on the type of chronic fatigue syndrome your body has developed. The truth is that the situation may differ a lot from one patient to another. However, it has been shown that almost 2/3 out of all the patients who suffer from the same set of medical conditions will feel like reducing their work at least by a little. In some cases, patients are left unable to work and it is estimated that less than ¼ of the patients diagnosed with the syndrome will be able to work full time.
12- How is the Diagnosis Made in the Case of This Syndrome?
The chronic fatigue syndrome is very difficult to really diagnose, since there is no laboratory test that can be performed to reveal any kind of anomaly. However, most of the medical professionals out there test the patients by excluding all the other medical conditions that may be similar. Thus, the doctors may test one for bipolar disorder, chronic depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders (such as bulimia and anorexia) and so on.
13- Is the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Actually Treatable?
It has been mentioned before that the medical professionals and researchers out there do not yet know exactly what it is that causes the development of the chronic fatigue syndrome. Thus, there is no actual cure for this syndrome. However, medical professionals can prescript certain types of medication and they can also suggest the patient with certain therapies that will help them manage the symptoms shown by this syndrome.
14- What Medication Is There Available?
The drugs your doctor will prescribe you with can vary a lot and usually, they are given according to your particular symptoms. Very often, patients diagnosed with the chronic fatigue syndrome have to take some sort of antidepressant drug (for their sleep issues and for their psychological problems as well). Furthermore, in some of the cases out there, the medical professional may also have to prescribe pain management drugs and any other kind of drugs that can help ameliorating the symptoms.
15- Is the Symptomatic Treatment Actually Good?
The symptomatic treatment is the only kind of medical treatment there is at the moment and it has been shown that patients who get diagnosed less than 2 years after the onset of the syndrome can stand a better chance at responding well to the treatment and that they may have a better chance of getting well sooner, rather than later.
16- Are There Any Other Types of Treatment Out There?
It appears that more recently, patients suffering from the chronic fatigue syndrome have discovered that certain Eastern practices may help them relieve themselves from the symptoms of the syndrome. For instance, many of the patients out there claim that acupuncture has been able to help them relieve themselves from the main symptoms they had been suffering from. Furthermore, other patients have tried fluorescent-light treatments and they have claimed that it worked for them.
Other alternative medicine treatments that may work in your case as well include Ayurveda medicine, detoxification, homeopathy medicine, osteopathy medicine and even Yoga practices.
Even more, some sort of physical treatment will most likely be recommended by your doctor as well. One type of physical treatment that has appeared to show results in the case of the patients who suffer from the chronic fatigue syndrome is the graded exercise therapy. This type of exercising starts very slowly and it will be very gradually increased over time. By doing this kind of exercises, you will avoid crashing after pushing yourself too much and you will avoid the remittance and the relapsing of the syndrome’s main symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also recommended in certain cases and although it is a type of therapy that is widely used by patients suffering from certain types of medical conditions, it has only been proven to be mildly efficient on the case of those who suffer from the chronic fatigue syndrome. Basically, this kind of therapy focuses on each patient’s symptoms and beliefs and tries to build a sustainable set of solutions that can be used every day by the patient. Also, cognitive behavioral therapy works towards changing the patients’ mentality when it comes to illness and to certain psychological patterns that may not be helpful in treating the syndrome.
17- Is Your Diet Important?
Yes, it is considered that what you eat can be extremely important in the way your chronic fatigue syndrome will evolve over time. Some of the medical professionals out there even prescribe vitamin supplements, such as vitamin C, B6, beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc and even adrenal extracts.
Furthermore, nutritional therapy will work in two main directions when it comes to the chronic fatigue syndrome. On the one hand, you will have to eliminate any kind of food that may be worsening your symptoms (such as food that irritates the bowels, for example). On the other hand though, you will have to eat foods that strengthen your general health, so that you can stand stronger in the front of the symptoms.
Sometimes, the medical professional may recommend you to investigate any kind of food sensitivity you may suffer from. This will diminish the chances that you include something in your diet that will worsen your condition. For instance, if you are lactose-intolerant or gluten-intolerant, you will not want to worsen your general state by eating foods that contain something you are intolerant or sensitive to.
Generally speaking, doctors recommend a diet that is low in fat and low in sugars, because these two parts of your diet may worsen your symptoms by a lot. Also, they recommend patients to eat whole grains, complex carbohydrates and foods that are generally speaking considered to be healthy. Coffee (and any other kind of product that contains caffeine, for that matter) should be completely eliminated from your diet for two main reasons: it can affect your adrenal gland and it can affect your sleeping pattern (which may not be very good even without coffee, but which may completely go out of control if you drink caffeinated products).
Garlic is something that you will have to include in your diet as much as possible, because it is believed to be great for those who want to strengthen their immune system. Simply adding crushed garlic to your meals can help you with your immune system and it help you eat healthy without giving up on good taste. Furthermore, some studies show thaat adding caprylic acid or grapefruit to your meals can decrease the chances of your body developing yeast Candida albicans, which may be one of the reasons your condition may worsen in time.
18- How Will Your Life Change?
Being diagnosed with the chronic fatigue syndrome is definitely not something to joke around with and although some people tend to trivialize the importance this syndrome can have on one’s life, the truth is that every single aspect of your life may change from now on.
For starters, you will have to change your lifestyle. Changing your diet and starting some sort of physical therapy may be two of the first things your doctor will recommend you to do once the diagnosis has been done. Furthermore, you will have to accept the fact that other types of changes may intervene in your life as well. For example, there may be times when you will feel more isolated from society than on other times. Also, there may be times when you may not be able to do all the things you may want to do. However, this should not depress you and you should try to stay optimistic at all times, since your view on life is one of the most important things when it comes to treating this set of medical conditions known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
Furthermore, do expect your financial status to change a bit. It has been shown that people suffering from the chronic fatigue syndrome tend to earn less money than before they were diagnosed with this syndrome. On average, it is believed that a person can lose $20,000 in productivity and you should expect the financial situation of your family to change over the course of your recovery. Make sure that everybody in your family is expecting this and that you will have enough money to follow in with your treatment. It is very important that you do not simply give up once you have started a set of therapies, since otherwise you risk having the syndrome relapsed as soon as you get back to your normal life.
19- Why is It Important that All People are Aware of the Existence of this Syndrome?
The truth about the chronic fatigue syndrome is that not all of the people out there actually admit that it exists. Studies show that even children who suffer from this syndrome feel burdened by the fact that they are constantly bullied by certain medical professionals and by certain educational professionals out there and that even they struggle for recognition.
For many of the people out there, the chronic fatigue syndrome does not actually exist and since it is very difficult to prove the actual changes in the human body that appear with its development, the only way to struggle for recognition is to raise awareness. This is why there are many support groups out there and this is why there are organizations that fight for the recognition of this syndrome. May 12 is the day dedicated to the recognition of the chronic fatigue syndrome and it is a day when people fight for the rights of those who suffer from this syndrome.
It is highly essential that more and more people become aware of the fact that this syndrome is actually real and that it can actually affect every area of one’s life. Even more, it can affect the general economy of the country, especially since it is estimated that almost 1 milion Americans are diagnosed with the chronic fatigue syndrome. In order to ammeliorate their situation, researchers needs funds and in order to receive these funds, they need to have as many people as possible to admit the fact that the chronic fatigue syndrome exists and that it is a real problem that needs a solution.