This week´s blog is on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). It is a disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts for more than 6 months which doesn’t improve with rest or sleep and has no discernible cause.

Fatigue and tiredness are extremely common symptoms for many people. Usually though, with adequate nutrition, rest and sleep, a person’s energy level will naturally improve and feelings of fatigue will subside. However, fatigue becomes a problem when it stays for prolonged periods of time and begins to disrupt and interfere with a person’s daily activities. This is when it may be beneficial to seek the advice of a doctor, naturopath or other qualified health professional.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is more commonly diagnosed in women than men, however it may well be that women are more likely to seek treatment for their symptoms whilst men don’t. CFS can also occur at any age, but individuals between the ages of 40 – 50 are more frequently affected. Those who lead inactive lifestyles and are overweight are also at a higher risk of developing CFS.

The diagnosis of CFS can take a long time to determine. This is because many chronic fatigue symptoms are quite general in nature and can mirror and occur in other health conditions such as anemia, underactive thyroid, diabetes, depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia. The doctor will need to rule out these conditions as well as other possibilities before a diagnosis can be made. Unfortunately there is no single test that can de done to determine CFS.

Some common symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include:

Extreme fatigue lasting more than 6 months
Muscle weakness
Unexplained muscle pain
Migratory joint pain without swelling or redness
Sleep disturbances
Low mood
Mild fever
Recurring sore throats
Recurring headaches
Painful lymph nodes
Prolonged exhaustion after exercise
Difficulty getting out of bed
To date, there is still no definitive cause for CFS but there are some theories. One theory suggests viral infections such as the Epstein-Barr virus, which is responsible for glandular fever as being a possible culprit. Some viruses can produce latent lifelong infection in a person’s body leading to ongoing immune dysfunction.

Another likely theory for CFS is high levels of prolonged stress, which leads to nutritional deficiencies and adrenal exhaustion. High stress can also alter the immune systems ability to function properly.

A person’s mood and mental attitude can also have a role to play in CFS. Individuals with a positive outlook and mental attitude tend to have more energy and better immunity over those with low mood. During periods of low energy and low mood, it is important to find ways to nourish and nurture ‘self’. In our busy lives, it is so easy to place all our energy and attention externally on friends and family around us. Doing things just for ‘you’ though will help focus energy inwards and provide more joy in your life. This will have a positive effect on mood and energy levels.

I hope this has been helpful.

Wishing you vibrant health and happiness,

Amy