This is your source for the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) information you need in order to make informed healthcare decisions. We’re going to take you step by step through chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms, causes, and treatments. Let’s start by examining the symptoms.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms
Please keep in mind that this symptoms list is not intended for self-diagnosis. You should still see a doctor to ensure that these symptoms are not indicative of another condition. One of the difficulties in getting a CFS diagnosis is that many symptoms are similar to other conditions that need to be ruled out. Here are some of the more common chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.
- Fatigue – This is the primary symptom that CFS is known for as is indicated in the condition’s name. However, it is more than just a lack of sleep. In fact, sleep does not remove the fatigue. It also more than soreness or tiredness from working too hard. Exertion can cause exhaustion that lasts for days.
- Sore throat – A person with CFS may experience an otherwise unexplainable sore throat on a regular basis.
- Enlarged lymph nodes – The armpit and neck lymph nodes may become enlarged. Again, this symptom can indicate many other conditions that need to be ruled out first including certain forms of cancer.
- Joint or muscle pain – This is different from soreness due to physical activity. The joint or muscle pain springs up with no explainable cause.
- Headaches – Chronic headaches are a frequent issue for CFS sufferers.
- Cognitive difficulties – Also referred to as brain fog, many CFS patients struggle with memory issues as well as difficulty concentrating.
- Unrefreshing sleep – Sleeping a full night should leave a person feeling refreshed in the morning. This is not true for a person with chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Exertion-induced exhaustion – Both mental and physical exertion can leave a person with CFS completely exhausted for over 24 hours at a time. As a result, a person with chronic fatigue will become wary about how he or she uses both physical and mental energy.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Causes
Chronic fatigue often seems to appear gradually but out of the blue. Are there any chronic fatigue syndrome causes to watch out for? Unfortunately, everything seems to be guesswork at this point. Here are a few educated guesses that researchers have put together.
- Weakened Immune System – Does a weak immune system cause a person to develop CFS or does CFS weaken a person’s immune system. Since most people with chronic fatigue present with a weakened immune system, this has become a “chicken or the egg” type battle between researchers with no decisive winner yet.
- Viral Infections – There is no definitive link between any particular virus and CFS. However, researchers have noted that many CFS patients have or had certain viruses in common. Thus, a closer look is being taken at viruses like Epstein-Barr and human herpes virus 6. While these viruses may not actually cause CFS, they could be the trigger that sends a dormant condition into action.
- Hormonal Imbalances – While little research has been done regarding this phenomenon, certain hormonal imbalances seem to present in CFS. For example, blood levels of hormones produced by the pituitary gland, adrenals, and hypothalamus are often abnormal. While these findings may not lead to identifying the cause of CFS, it is hopeful that they could eventually lead to a reliable chronic fatigue syndrome test. That would take a lot of the guesswork out of getting a diagnosis.
- Trauma – Much research has gone into the idea that physical or emotional trauma can play a role in the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome. The fact that physical or mental exertion causes a flare-up of the condition may prove significant when looking to this as an underlying cause.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatments
When talking about chronic fatigue syndrome treatments, please take the word treatment with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, most traditional treatments for CFS just cover up some of the symptoms. The most common medications that are prescribed are antidepressants. The idea behind this is that these drugs may help the patient to sleep and also experience less pain. The dose of antidepressants prescribed for CFS is far lower than that prescribed for clinical depression.
Another common approach is cognitive behavioral therapy. One of the primary triggers for a CFS flare-up is stress or emotional trauma. Talking things out with a counselor has helped many to be able to reduce the frequency of flare-ups by providing an outlet for stress or emotionally challenging situations.
Graded exercise is an important chronic fatigue syndrome treatment. While this doesn’t do anything to eliminate the condition, it can keep CFS symptoms from growing worse. One problem CFS patients have is that they grow sedentary out of fear of wearing themselves out. One day of exercise leads to a week in bed, so they don’t try to work out again. As a result, unused joints grow stiff, and weight gain places more strain on the body. Starting extremely light and gradually increasing exercise intensity has proved a beneficial way to add daily exercise to the life of a patient with CFS.
We’d also like to take this opportunity to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic care. It is a natural way to find relief from chronic health problems like CFS or fibromyalgia. This subspecialty of chiropractic that focuses on providing precise and gentle adjustments for the top two bones of the spine can help the nervous system to function optimally and may improve blood flow to the brain.
If you are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, especially if you have ever been in an accident or suffered a whiplash-type injury, upper cervical chiropractic may be just the thing to help ease your symptoms and restore some quality of life. To learn more, find a practitioner near you today.