Are You Suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Often misunderstood as something less serious, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a debilitating condition which can’t simply be cured by sleeping more. Mental and physical activities can make your symptoms worse, and when you’re intense fatigue can’t be attributed to a specific cause, your GP may classify your condition as CFS. This is a controversial condition, as the medical industry is still determining how to diagnose it. It is deemed a definitive condition though, with unknown causes that researchers are still looking into. It’s thought by experts that viruses, immune impairment, hormonal problems and hypotension could all be reasons behind people developing CFS. The virus researchers believe it could be connected to people developing this condition include Ross River virus, human herpes virus six, retroviruses, Epstein-Barr, rubella and mycoplasma – the latter is a cause of atypical pneumonia. People who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome often have a weakened immune system, but researchers are still looking into whether this is enough to cause the disease. If you’re aged between 30 and 50, you’re more at risk of developing the condition – women are especially at risk. As with many other health problems, CFS is made worse by being overweight or leading a sedentary lifestyle.
The symptoms for this health complaint vary between patients, as well as varying depending on the severity of the condition. Naturally, the most common symptom is fatigue, but in order to be diagnosed with CFS you need to have been suffering with fatigue for at least six months and must find that it isn’t curable with bed rest. Other symptoms include loss of concentration, muscle pain, headaches, feeling unrefreshed after sleep, frequent sore throat, tender lymph nodes in your neck or armpit, and multi-joint pain without swelling or redness. Studies suggest that one to four million people in America have CFS, yet only 20 percent of these have been diagnosed. It’s very difficult to diagnose as you won’t look unwell or sick, and the symptoms can easily be attributed to other conditions. There are also currently no screening tests to find out if people have the condition. Usually, your GP will only diagnose you with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome if you’re suffering with at least four of the symptoms. You also need to be suffering with unexplained fatigue that isn’t cured by bed rest, as previously mentioned.
There is no cure for CFS, and because each patient usually has different symptoms it can be difficult to suggest treatments which will be effective. The most common treatment is to make changes to your lifestyle, such as limiting or removing caffeine from your diet so that you can sleep more soundly. You should also limit or remove nicotine and alcohol too, for the same reasons. Try to create a sleep routine, such as going to bed and waking up at the same times every day, to get your body into the habit of resting during these times. Take your time to finish activities so as not to overly exert yourself, and try to avoid emotional and physical stress. There are two types of therapy which seem to benefit CFS patients, which are psychological counselling and physical therapy. These can help to improve your mental outlook and provide an exercise routine respectively. Alternative therapies which could be useful also include yoga, massage, tai chi and acupuncture. You should speak to your GP before undertaking any new treatment or medication to ensure it’s safe, but many patients report that these alternative treatments prove to be effective in reducing or eliminating the symptoms of the condition.
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