Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a frustrating, disabling, and frequently misunderstood illness. Also called myalgic encephalomyelitis, CFS is associated with crushing fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest. People with CFS are often unable to do daily tasks, hold a job, or attend school. It can last for years and leave patients unable to leave their home for long periods of time. Sadly, an estimated 90% of people who have CFS haven’t been diagnosed with the condition.
CFS may be underdiagnosed because it’s a syndrome, which is a condition associated with a variety of symptoms, and can be experienced differently by each patient. In addition, CFS is frequently misunderstood by some health care providers, and as a result, CFS symptoms may not be taken seriously when reported by a patient.
As a syndrome, the symptoms of CFS vary widely from patient to patient, but the primary symptoms of this condition include:
- Severe fatigue that doesn’t get better with rest
- A decrease in the ability to do everyday tasks and activities
- Fatigue and other symptoms are aggravated by everyday activities. Called post-exertional malaise, or PEM, this kind of exhaustion may be caused by mental or physical activities.
- Sleep issues
- Brain fog and memory problems
- Symptoms may be aggravated by standing or sitting up
- Joint pain, achiness or weakness in your muscles
- Frequent sore throats
- Digestive problems
- Temperature swings, such as night sweats or chills
- Sore lymph nodes, especially those in your neck or armpits
Researchers are unsure what causes CFS, but there are a number of theories. Some believe it’s possible that CFS may be like a perfect storm of several factors that trigger the condition. Many people with CFS recall that their symptoms began with an incident that was similar to the flu. This leads scientists to suspect certain infections or viruses, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, as triggers for CFS. Some scientists also believe that CFS may be caused by immune system disruptions from an infection.
It’s also suspected that severe stress may contribute to the onset of CFS by disrupting your immune system. The HPA axis in your brain controls your body’s hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, which are two of your body’s stress hormones. Scientists believe that a disruption of the HPA axis from chronic or severe stress may also disrupt other body functions, most notably your immune system. Many patients diagnosed with CFS report undergoing great deal of stress, either physical or emotional, prior to their illness
Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) at BodaHealth
Currently there is no cure for CFS, but for many people with this condition, their ability to function often gets better with time. The symptoms of CFS are usually the most severe during the first year or two, and while many people feel better with time, most struggle to regain their former level of function and full health. At BodaHealth, our practitioners are experienced in treating patients with CFS and are committed to giving you the best care available. Our goal is to help you manage your symptoms and restore your ability to function. We can help you in a number of ways:
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The foundations of acupuncture and Chinese medicine are all about energy. In treating patients with CFS, our goal is to understand the underlying cause of your diminished energy and work to restore it to previous levels. Research studies support this, as many suggest that acupuncture can help decrease the fatigue associated with CFS. Furthermore, the physiological effects of acupuncture on your body make it an effective option for other symptoms associated with CFS, including pain, sleep problems, stress, depression, and anxiety. Our practitioners are also well-trained in the healing practices of Chinese medicine, which include herbal formulas, nutritional therapy, and lifestyle strategies.
Our Naturopathic doctors can help patients struggling with CFS in a number of ways. To understand the source of your fatigue, they will assess your nutritional status, test the levels of your stress hormones, assess your digestion, and determine if any toxicities are playing a role in your condition. Our naturopaths are able to prescribe vitamins, herbs, nutritional supplements, supplemental hormones, and dietary strategies to alleviate your symptoms and restore your energy. As primary care providers, they are also able to order further lab tests and prescribe medications when necessary.
Nutrition is important for patients with CFS. Your energy comes from the food you eat, so eating the right food is critical in providing your body with energy. Our nutritionists and naturopathic doctors can help determine your individual nutritional needs and work with you to develop a plan to help you get the nutrients you need to maximize your energy.
Vitamin Injections. Sometimes eating well just isn’t enough to support your health. In those instances, we are able to offer our patients vitamin injections to boost nutritional status. They may include injections of B vitamins or other substances to reverse nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin injections are a direct delivery system, which bypass your digestive tract and go right to work. They can also be used to support your immune system and help improve your energy.
Exercise physiology may also be used to support our patients with CFS. Our exercise physiologist can work with you to develop a plan for incorporating movement into your life without aggravating your symptoms. This may be as simple as finding energy-saving ways to do everyday activities or determining personal limits for physical activity.
Massage therapy can be beneficial for patients with CFS in a number of ways. It can be beneficial for those patients who experience muscle or joint pain, headaches, and sleep issues. Massage is also incredibly relaxing and a good choice for stress relief, especially when chronic stress is aggravating your symptoms.
For patients with Chronic Fatigue, just getting out of bed some days can be a struggle. At BodaHealth, our practitioners understand the challenges that come with this diagnosis. If you are struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, call us today to find out what we can do to help you.