Treating chronic fatigue syndrome
Martin writes Check Up from a Kingston 10 address. He is a legal clerk who works hard at his job. He says he had a couple of episodes with the flu earlier this year, and now, no matter how much he rests at home, he just feels tired and without much energy.
Getting through each day at work takes maximum effort. Martin saw his private doctor, who ran a number of blood tests that didn't reveal any helpful, information. He is taking iron, Vitamin B complex, and other nutritional supplements, which maybe help a little. Martin is concerned about his health and asks Check Up what could be going on with his health and why he lacks energy.
It is possible that Martin is experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is a disorder associated with tiredness but is really difficult to diagnose. Usually, the affected person feels tired all the time and finds it difficult to complete what he or she previously considered to be normal activities. CFS, sadly, has no known cure, BUT its symptoms can be treated to allow a more healthy and fulfilled life!
In some cases, CFS develops after a flu-like illness or after severe stressful periods in life, but it can occur without any illness at all.
There is much left to be learnt about this illness! Fatigue can develop gradually or occur suddenly and is often at first ignored for weeks and months.
The fatigue being experienced may worsen with increased physical activity and stress but may not seem to improve with rest.
Sometimes, the symptoms of fatigue worsen and sometimes they disappear - but only temporarily. It seems that the symptoms of CFS may well arise from more than one underlying condition and may be a combination of factors ranging from viral illnesses to stress, the combined effect of which can trigger the condition.
Core symptoms for chronic fatigue syndrome include:
n Sore throat
n Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or armpit
n Physical fatigue
n Mental fatigue
n Feeling weak and unwell after physical activities
n Sleep disorder
n Muscle and joint pains
Also at least two of the following symptoms:
n Poor concentration
n Poor short-term memory or difficulty thinking of the correct word to say at times
n Increased light or noise sensitivity
n Slow thinking, feeling confused or disoriented
n Muscle weakness
Some individuals with CFS may also experience:
n Light headedness or dizziness
n Palpitations or shortness of breath when active
n Frequency of urination
n Cold hands and feet or sweating
n Weight or appetite change
Depression commonly occurs with CFS and worsens the symptoms. Because CFS causes symptoms that are similar to many other diseases, it can be diagnosed only after a full check-up and health evaluation to rule out other conditions. The treatment for CFS then concentrates on symptom relief.
Some causes of chronic fatigue syndrome include:
n Viral Illnesses
n Immune system problems
n Hormonal imbalances
Some people find that the fatigue and thinking problems along with an achy body pain hamper their lives while others are only mildly affected. For most people, symptoms are worse at the start of the disorder and may lessen after a time and worsen again. Some lucky people see the feelings of fatigue disappear entirely. Most people are able to continue with some of their home and work activities but feel tired afterwards. Many people with CFS will cut down on social activities to keep their energies for home and work. Other sufferers of CFS have problems getting out of bed in the morning and even need help with bathing and dressing, which can occur in extreme cases!
CFS tends to occur in people between the ages of 25 to 40 years who have some difficulty managing stress. Some people with this disorder will be treated with anti-depressants and sleeping aids, which makes it easier to cope with the many associated problems and which helps improve sleep.
Other advice includes:
n Pace activities. Don't do too much at any one time.
n Exercise moderately. Begin with stretches for 10 minutes daily and gradually increase activities.
n Talk with a counsellor to help regain control of life's activities.
n Pain associated with CFS has been helped by acupuncture, yoga, and tai chi.
n Family support is important, so family should be involved in visits to the doctor when they occur.
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