How to treat chronic fatigue syndrome

You feel tired, overworked, that is, you can’t rest at all. These may be symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. In this article, we are going to explain how to treat chronic fatigue syndrome. Keep reading to find out what is the best therapy for CFS.



Also read: How to overcome running fatigue


What is Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS meaning)?

Girl with a phone in her hand

The definition of chronic fatigue syndrome is a disorder characterized by chronic fatigue for no apparent reason and is accompanied by a variety of psychophysical symptoms.

Fatigue that lasts more than six months interferes with normal activities, and for which no medical cause has been determined is called unexplained chronic fatigue. Such fatigue can be further classified into chronic fatigue syndrome and idiopathic chronic fatigue. If the patient does not have all the symptoms necessary to make a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, a diagnosis of idiopathic chronic fatigue is made. Simplified, idiopathic means that the cause of fatigue is unknown.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). It is a complex disease with a wide range of symptoms. Although there is no known cause for CFS, it is often associated with stress, compromised immune systems, nervous system inflammation, and/or exposure to Epstein-Barr virus. Both age and gender seem to play a role. Women between the ages of 30 and 50 are at increased risk of this disease.

It is also possible that chronic fatigue syndrome is the physical equivalent of depression, ie the form of reduced inactivity of certain brain centers that affects physical function more than mental.

Any kind of doctor can diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome, such as a neurologist, rheumatologists, infectious disease specialist, or other specialists.


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) symptoms

The symptoms of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) may seem similar to many other diseases. There is no diagnostic test to confirm ME/CFS with certainty. The disease can be unpredictable. Symptoms may come and go or may change over time.

This disorder is characterized by severe and chronic mental and physical fatigue that usually affects previously healthy and active individuals. It affects women more often, younger and mature.

The illness usually starts abruptly, after overcoming a cold or after a more stressful event in life (moving, changing jobs).

The most common chronic fatigue symptoms are:

  • Fatigue – fatigue with no explanation, with physical and mental exhaustion that reduces daily activities and is not eliminated by rest.
  • General malaise
  • Sleep disorders – sleep that does not “refresh”. In addition, waking up is common, sleep duration is too short.
  • Pain throughout the body – muscle pain and/or joint pain (without visible swelling, heat and redness), headaches, painful lymph nodes and sore throat, and especially abdominal pain (often as irritable bowel syndrome) are common.
  • Neurological/cognitive manifestations – confusion, forgetfulness, mental fatigue, difficulty concentrating and short-term memory, disorientation, perceptual and sensory disorders, muscle weakness.
  • Autonomic disorders – a neurologically mediated pressure drop, pressure drop after getting up, extreme pallor, nausea and irritable bowel syndrome, palpitations and difficulty breathing.
  • Immune disorders – a slight increase in lymph nodes, sore throat, general malaise.


Is Chronic Fatigue a disability?

As the name suggests, chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by persistent fatigue that cannot be relieved of rest. Psychological manifestations of CFS are common and include depression, anxiety, or irritability. In addition, a range of cognitive deficits collectively referred to as the “brain fog” may consist of confusion, forgetfulness, or speech and language. The symptoms of CFS are usually severe enough to cause significant disturbances in work, school, or personal activities.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is generally skeptical of claims of disability based solely on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).Most administrative law judges are reluctant to pay fees, except in the strongest cases.

In cases involving chronic fatigue syndrome, social security regulations require that objective medical signs and laboratory findings confirm the existence of a diagnosis. Self-reported symptoms alone are not sufficient, despite the subjective nature of many CFS symptoms. In addition to providing objective evidence of your condition, it is important that you seek the opinion of your physician regarding your job restrictions.


How long does chronic fatigue syndrome last?

To make the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, symptoms must be present for at least 6 months. However, the disease itself can last for many years. CFS relapse is also possible so the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome can come and go.


What triggers chronic fatigue syndrome?

For chronic fatigue syndrome causes, some doctors are convinced that the disease is of viral origin and blame the herpes virus. Others believe that the cause is stress. Most scientists agree that one of the causes lies in the patient’s lifestyle. For instance, constant stress and an accelerated pace of life. Unresolved internal conflicts, psychological problems and burdens are some of the pathways that lead to chronic fatigue, which occurs as a defensive reaction of the organism.

Chronic fatigue has long been considered a psychosomatic change. However, it is now accepted that it cannot be considered a psychiatric disorder, but as an organic-based disease, but whose causes are not yet fully known.

Despite a large amount of research on chronic fatigue syndrome in the world, the origin of this phenomenon is still far from being discovered. Nevertheless, some research has yielded reliable conclusions highlighting that oxidative stress is an important element of the disease, despite not knowing whether it is a cause or a consequence of CFS.

With the passage of time and advances in science, a hypothesis has been put forward about the possibility that an accelerated pace of life and poor nutrition, among other causes, cause the abnormal development of the fungus candidiasis, which will trigger chronic fatigue syndrome, but this theory has been widely criticized and entrenched.

On the other hand, some studies suggest that toxic substances found in the environment and chemical elements present in some foods also contribute to a person’s weakening and cause CFS.

Finally, the influence of sleep quality, recurrent physical and mental stress or some disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder have been pointed out.


Can chronic fatigue be cured?

Since it is a chronic disease, there is no cure for it, although doctors are constantly searching for techniques on how to treat chronic fatigue syndrome. However, pharmacological therapy to treat symptoms such as muscle pain, sleep disorders, anxiety or depression, has been effective, the symptoms have progressed over time.

In other words, health intervention is of the palliative type, to mitigate the effect the disease has on quality of life and to avoid creating additional problems that may not exist with effective symptom management and patient interaction and environment. Therefore, medication/antidepressants to increase energy levels and motivation are used, a diet with implemented supplements like vitamins (vitamin E, B, etc.), plant-based diet and others, to find the best possible treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Also, cognitive-behavioral intervention to work on emotional aspects and reeducation of food can also be successful as an adjunct to pharmacological treatment.


How to treat chronic fatigue syndrome?

How to treat chronic fatigue syndrome

There are treatments and strategies that can alleviate the symptoms of the disease, contribute to coping with daily life, and improve the functional level and quality of life.

Today, there is no treatment that can cure ME/CFS. However, there are treatments and strategies that can alleviate the symptoms of the disease, contribute to coping with daily life, and improve the functional level and quality of life. Most patients who have chronic fatigue syndrome also have depression. Treating depression can make it easier to deal with the problems associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Small doses of antidepressants can also improve sleep and relieve pain.

Some examples of these treatment strategies are:

  • talk to a nurse
  • contact with a physiotherapist or occupational therapist
  • TENS
  • relaxation
  • physical activity plan
  • courses, disease education

The following symptoms in the treatment of this syndrome should have special attention:

  • weakness after exercise or prolonged fatigue
  • sleep disorder
  • pain
  • depression, stress and anxiety
  • dizziness and fainting
  • problems with memory and concentration

Patients, their families, and health care providers should work together to decide which symptom causes the most problems. You should start treating this symptom first. The doctor should explain to the patient what are the possible advantages and disadvantages of any treatment plan, including medications for fatigue and depression, and other therapies. Healthcare professionals should support families of the patients.

Certain symptoms, such as fever, muscle and joint pain, can be treated with standard therapy for such disorders. Also, sometimes the patient needs psychiatric help due to frequent depressive episodes.

Resting and completely avoiding any effort can be counterproductive and can lead to complete weight loss and loss of fitness.


What is the best treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome?

The most effective treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome seems to be an approach that combines two methods. Cognitive training with an exercise program.

Cognitive training. Talking to a psychologist can help patients see opportunities to overcome some of the limitations imposed by chronic fatigue syndrome. Gaining control of your life can drastically improve your appearance to reduce discomfort

Programmed exercise. The physiotherapist can determine which exercises are best for the patient. Patients who were previously inactive often begin exercises to perform active movement in the joints and stretch for just a few minutes a day. Gradually increasing the intensity of exercise over time can help with hypersensitivity to exercise.


What do doctors prescribe for extreme fatigue?

The doctor can determine the systemic injuries that are causing fatigue. The doctor will conduct an examination, assign the necessary diagnostic tests.

There is no effective way to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, but treating the symptoms can improve your condition. If your doctor thinks it is necessary, he or she may prescribe painkillers, antidepressants or other medications he thinks will help for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

A rehabilitation medicine specialist will teach you how to plan your day so you can be living with chronic fatigue syndrome and use the time for well-being for yourself. You may need the help of a psychologist.


What is the best diet for chronic fatigue syndrome?

Vegetable salad on plate

In the case of chronic fatigue, it is necessary to correct the diet in order to detoxify the body as soon as possible. To begin with, it is good to increase water intake, omit sweetened carbonated beverages, reduce caffeine intake, eliminate alcohol or reduce it to a minimum, increase the intake of fish, cereals, fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and then avoid dried meat, canned and refined carbohydrates.

You should definitely stop smoking and drinking large amounts of black coffee. Medications should not be taken without a doctor’s appointment. For chronic fatigue syndrome treatment, it is necessary to compensate for vitamins and minerals that are lost first by stress (B complex vitamins, vitamin C and the minerals magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron).

Dr. Steven Pratt, an ophthalmologist from California, wrote the book “Superfoods: 14 Foods That Will Change Your Life”. In the book he claims that these foods have a preventative effect on the whole body. Looking at the blood vessels of the fundus on a daily basis started from the assumption that the whole body is connected. So, if the heart is healthy, then both the eyes or the skin will be healthy.

These 14 foods are broccoli, blueberries, pumpkin, tea (green), beans, yogurt, salmon, oranges, walnuts, turkey, tomatoes, soy, spinach and oats in grain. In his opinion, there are no rules in consuming these foods (when and how to consume them), but it is desirable to eat them as often as possible.

The bioactive substances contained in them have a beneficial effect and can slow down, and in borderline cases even stop, the development of diabetes, high blood pressure, some types of malignant tumors, Alzheimer’s disease and similar.


What foods are bad for Chronic Fatigue?

Some foods can worsen symptoms, and according to Everydayhealth, these five foods are especially critical:

Caffeine

You may suddenly brighten up and feel a rush of energy after a morning cup of coffee, but when the effect subsides – you will probably feel even worse. People who suffer from chronic fatigue often have difficulty sleeping, and caffeine will further disrupt an already labile sleep. If you can’t give up coffee at all, experts recommend either decaffeinated coffee or limiting it to a maximum of half a cup of coffee a day.

Sugar

Just like caffeine, sugar has an instant effect. The energy it provides is instantaneous, and when the action stops – the energy drops to zero. In addition, sugar stimulates inflammation and consumes a lot of nutrients because the body has to process it. If you crave sweets, choose fruits instead of sweets. In addition to satisfying the need for sugar, it will give you energy and enrich your body with minerals, fiber and vitamins.

Fried food

When food is fried in oil, it is heated to such a high temperature that it causes the release of harmful free radicals. These radicals cause inflammation and cause symptoms of chronic fatigue.

White rice and pasta

Much like sweets, white rice and pasta cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, followed by a sharp drop. In short, it draws energy and results in additional fatigue. Brown rice, wholemeal pasta, fruits and vegetables are a much better choice. They will give you more energy for a longer time.

Hydrogenated oils

Hydrogenated oils stimulate inflammation in the body which then worsens the symptoms of chronic fatigue. Sometimes they are hard to avoid because they are found in many foods (margarine, cakes, creams, etc.). However, you should start paying attention to food labels. When cooking on your own, choose naturally healthy vegetables or vegetable oils, such as saffron oil, olive oil or avocado.


What vitamins are best for chronic fatigue?

It is important to observe the measure by using vitamins and minerals, as their excess in the body can jeopardize fewer problems than deficiency. If you decide to drink certain vitamins or vitamin complexes, be sure to consult your doctor about what substances your body lacks.

Vitamin C to treat chronic fatigue syndrome

Those who do not have ascorbic acid often complain about the appearance of fatigue, drowsiness, and depression. There was no link between vitamin C deficiency and chronic fatigue, but it helps increase efficiency and focus on fatigue. The degree of vitamin C intake is 0.1 g per day. In the case of catarrhal diseases, you need to increase the dose to 1-2 g per day. You can find a large amount of vitamin C in citrus, dogrose, parsley, dill, black currant.

B vitamins to treat chronic fatigue syndrome

They are the best helpers to combat constant drowsiness, fatigue. Most B vitamins are present in brewer’s yeast. You can buy special pills that you have to drink according to the instructions. Or use conventional baker’s yeast (bread), which must first be poured with boiling water or milk to “kill”, because “live” yeast reduces the body’s resistance to various diseases. Special mention should be made of vitamin B1 (or thiamine). On its lack, there is drowsiness, depression, fatigue. You will probably have enough of this vitamin that comes from food. But if you drink coffee often (more than 3 cups a day), you may feel tired. Coffee takes away vitamin B1 from us. Paradoxically, drinking coffee for awaking yourself up is wrong.

Iron to treat chronic fatigue syndrome

Its deficiency in the body can lead to anemia, which reduces efficiency. A lot of iron is found in meat, fish, liver, nuts, apples, gems. Drink iron preparations or consume them with food, along with products containing vitamin C, because it promotes better iron absorption.

Potassium, magnesium and aspartic acid to treat chronic fatigue syndrome

These three substances act in a complex and can help with fatigue. It is necessary to look for aspartic acid in sifted cereal seeds. You can find potassium in legumes and grains, fruits and vegetables. Magnesium is the main thing in the fight against depression and oppression. You can find it in nuts, buckwheat, sprouted wheat, dairy and other foods.

Noticing its deficiency in the body is simple – white spots appear on the nail. We find a lot of zinc in shrimp, sea kale, soy, meat, cheese, pumpkin seeds, oranges, raspberries, corn. It is important to know that the use of zinc drugs can cause a lack of other trace elements due to competitive assimilation in the gut. Therefore, it is necessary to take zinc in complex compounds with other minerals.


Does CFS weaken your immune system?

Many people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome have physical symptoms for which a medical examination usually cannot find the cause. In addition to chronic fatigue, sore throat, headache, muscle pain, problems with memory and concentration, joint pain, sensitivity of the lymph nodes, general pain, difficulty sleeping often occur.

Although doctors and patients are becoming more and more aware that it is not easy to determine the cause or cure of a chronic cause, if you watch what you eat and exercise, it will help your immunity to be stronger, so fatigue could be less.

What should be avoided in order for the immunity to be stronger

Too much sugar in the daily diet (100 g or 20 tablespoons) can impair immunity by as much as 40 percent. This primarily refers to simple sugars, including honey and carbonated beverages. It is a weakened activity of white blood cells to destroy microbes. Interestingly, when you replace sugar with complex carbohydrates, there is no drop in immunity. Sugar reduces the absorption of other nutrients, especially vitamin C, which plays a significant role in defense.

High intake of saturated and trans fats from industrial foods, and mostly due to red meat, can impair the immune system. Oxidation of such fats produces many free radicals that dramatically destroy defense cells and thus weaken immunity. The more we consume saturated fats of animal origin (red meat, fatty cheeses, butter, cream and whole milk) the greater the lack of prostaglandins and leukotrienes. The condition improves significantly when you replace part of such fats with omega-3 fatty acids.

A passive lifestyle damages immunity. Regular exercise, even if it was about brisk walking, contributes incredibly to the strength of immunity. Namely, inactivity slows down the release of body toxins. In contrast, exercise speeds up circulation, works muscles and joints, and stimulates the organs in charge of defense to produce new “soldiers” for defense.


New treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome 2020

As we already mentioned, there is no official treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome, but you shouldn’t stop searching for how to treat it because there might be a way to beat CFS. Although there is no cure that works for everyone, you can try some diets or exercises like weight training which may actually work as a treatment for your chronic fatigue syndrome. Take a look at this video called „How i cured my chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)“. She found a diet that helps her in her treatment for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

But remember, this will not be suitable for everyone. Please make your own assessment and do your own further research. Also, consult your trusted healthcare professionals before trying any of these techniques.



Online test for chronic fatigue syndrome

If you think that you have chronic fatigue syndrome, before contacting your doctor, you can take a test online. Take this chronic fatigue syndrome quiz to see if you have the criteria needed for this diagnosis.



Also read: How to improve mental health?

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