One of the most dangerous and debilitating illnesses is chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Chronic fatigue syndrome is defined as a long-term exhaustion that inhibits a person from engaging in their typical activities. Adults who satisfy the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder are thought to account for between 0.5% and 1% of the population.
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Chronic fatigue syndrome is more common in women than in males. Patients with ME/CFS tend to be between the ages of 40 and 60, but it has been shown that it can affect anyone, even children and adolescents, in some cases. ME/CFS is diagnosed more frequently in white individuals in the United States than in any other race or ethnicity. ME/CFS is a condition that affects as many as 90 percent of the individuals in the United States, especially those who are marginalized.
Because the medical community’s understanding of ME/CFS is still developing, researchers are looking for new ways to treat the illness. Chronic fatigue syndrome may be linked to coronavirus sickness in 2019, according to specialists (COVID-19). According to early findings from the CDC, COVID-19 may prolong an already-prolonged disease. That long-term disease is characterized by a constant feeling of exhaustion. If COVID-19 can induce ME/CFS, more investigation is needed.
What Is Fatigue?
It’s common knowledge that a good night’s sleep can help you recharge when you’re feeling drowsy. Fatigue, on the other hand, is a state of chronic exhaustion and low energy that does not go away with sleep. Many people experience exhaustion at some point in their lives. Sleep deprivation, lengthy periods of stress, and physical exertion all contribute to fatigue. In some cases, though, exhaustion might be a sign of a more serious health issue.
There are three types of weariness according to professionals:
- Acute fatigue is defined as lasting less than a month.
- Fatigue lasting more than a month but less than six months is considered long-term.
- Chronic fatigue is defined as lasting more than six months.
Chronic fatigue is a typical symptom of ME/CFS.
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by long-term exhaustion that does not improve with rest. They suffer from an abnormal lack of energy and are often confined to their beds because to their condition. Patients with ME/CFS are so exhausted that they must cut back on their normal activities by half. Everything from taking a shower to keeping a job might be badly affected by the illness.
For some persons with ME/CFS, physical and mental activities might exacerbate the weariness, even if these activities were not an issue prior to their illness. Post-exertional malaise is the medical word for what you’re feeling (PEM). “Crash” and “relapse” are terms used by those with ME/CFS to describe the growing tiredness.
Effects of chronic fatigue syndrome
People with ME/CFS experience varying degrees of disability. ME/CFS can be mild, moderate, or severe, much like any other chronic condition.
- Mild – at least a 50% decrease in the amount of activity of the affected individual
- At the extreme end, the patient is bed-bound and completely reliant on others for all of his or her daily needs.
They can’t go to school, work, or socialize because they’re too ill to do these things. Many people find themselves in financial trouble. Some in the ME/CFS community mistakenly believe that a person’s condition is “in their brain” or that they should “just push through” because they are “just fatigued.” Misunderstanding this can lead to relapses and worsen a person’s condition, which is not a good thing for anyone.
Chronic fatigue syndrome and exercise
People with ME/CFS have varying responses to physical exertion. Some people find exercise difficult since it can exacerbate their symptoms. People with ME/CFS are divided over whether or not they should engage in regular exercise.
People with ME/CFS can’t endure standard aerobic exercise regimens because of post-exertional malaise, thus they must learn to moderate their activity. In order to avoid any deterioration of symptoms in the following days or weeks, people should work with their healthcare providers to devise a weekly regimen that is tailored to their specific needs.
If a person with ME/CFS is encouraged into pushing themselves beyond their limits, it can be harmful and lead to a long-term relapse. The goal is to strike a healthy balance between rest and activity in order to prevent fitness levels from slipping owing to inactivity and sickness flare-ups as a result of overwork.
Some people with ME/CFS, as time goes on and their condition improves, will discover that they can do more, but this is a progressive process that takes time.
It is critical to begin any new activity plan carefully and gradually increase its intensity. Some persons with ME/CFS can only stretch for a few minutes at a time while starting an activity program.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms
Prior to being diagnosed with ME/CFS, most persons were able to function at a typical level. A traumatic medical or psychological incident or a sudden onset of ME/CFS are both possible causes of the illness’ onset.
ME/CFS is characterized by the following:
- Extreme exhaustion that does not go away even after rest. This exhaustion impairs one’s capacity to go about one’s everyday business.
- a worsening of tiredness following an effort of any kind, whether mental or physical.
- Problems with sleep, such as difficulties getting to sleep or remaining asleep.
Those with ME/CFS may also suffer from one or both of the following additioanal symptoms:
- Memory, thinking, or concentration problems. For those who suffer from Alzheimer’s, memory loss and “brain fog” are common symptoms.
- Standing or sitting up causes an increase in symptoms. Standing or sitting upright can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or weakness.
Additional signs and symptoms may include
- Muscle weakness or chronic pain
- Nose ache
- Lymph nodes that are a little painful.
- Headaches that are new or exacerbated
- Night sweats and a chill in the air
- Food, odor, sound, or light sensitivity or allergy
- Even if the symptoms intensify, depression
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms in Children and Adolescents
With a few notable exceptions, children with ME/CFS display symptoms comparable to those seen in adults:
- Standing for long periods of time increases one’s risk of feeling dizzy. In children and teenagers, this symptom is the worst and exacerbates other symptoms. It is also known as orthostatic intolerance.
- Pain in my head and in my stomach Children experience increasing headaches and stomach troubles rather than muscle weakness or pain.
- Sleep apnea or insomnia. Daytime drowsiness, difficulty going asleep or staying asleep, and vivid nightmares are some of the most common symptoms.
Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The etiology of ME/CFS is still unknown, despite the fact that many other types of fatigue have recognized causes, such as sleep disorders, depression, or cancer.
The following are some of the hypotheses advanced by researchers:
- Infection. A viral-like sickness is often cited as the first sign of ME/CFS development by sufferers. Coxiella burnetti, Epstein-Barr virus, or Ross River virus are all possible culprits (Q fever). To far, no conclusive evidence has been found linking ME/CFS to any specific viruses or viruses in the body. These infections are not confined to ME/CFS patients.
- Genetics. According to recent research, family members of individuals with ME/CFS are more likely to contract the illness themselves. Other investigations have found genetic markers that are associated with ME/CFS.
- Anxiety and Depression. Stress hormone cortisol levels are lower in ME/CFS patients than in healthy individuals. Patients with ME/CFS frequently have reduced levels of cortisol, but these levels are usually within the normal range. As a result, a cortisol level test is ineffective in determining whether or not someone has ME/CFS.
- The body’s immune system is out of whack. There have been reports of immunologic variations between those with CFS and those who do not have it. There is no increased risk of infection for people with CFS.)
- Sleep Apnea and other forms of insomnia. ME/CFS has been linked to delayed dim light melatonin production, according to certain research. This link shows that ME/CFS may be caused in part by a delayed circadian rhythm. However, while melatonin helps regulate the circadian cycle, there is no evidence that melatonin helps alleviate ME/CFS symptoms.
Risk Factors for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
One or more of the following conditions may increase a person’s risk of acquiring the syndrome:
- Age 40–60
- Family history of ME/CFS
There is no proven way to reduce one’s chance of developing ME/CFS.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosis
The criteria for diagnosing ME/CFS are constantly being updated as additional research is done. Physicians might utilize a variety of diagnostic criteria to arrive at their conclusions. Some criteria sets, on the other hand, demand the following:
- Fatigue that is worsened after engaging in normal activities such as going to the gym.
- A lack of quality shut-eye or other forms of sleep deprivation.
- There is widespread pain or discomfort, such as aches and pains in muscles and joints or a headache.
- Any two or more distinct but related forms of cognitive or neurological impairment.
- For more than six months, a symptom.
In order to determine if someone has chronic fatigue syndrome, there is no diagnostic test. The patient’s symptoms, as well as their family medical history, are taken into account by doctors. Other diseases are generally ruled out by the use of urine and blood testing. Patients can be referred to specialists by their primary care physicians if they believe that there may be an alternative diagnosis.
One of the most common causes of chronic weariness is multiple sclerosis, according to experts. ME/CFS is associated with a wide range of conditions, including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Interstitial cystitis
- Allergies and sensitivities
How is CFS treated?
CFS does not have a known cure at this time.
Symptoms vary from person to person, and so does the type of treatment they need to control and alleviate their symptoms.
Create a treatment plan with your healthcare team that is tailored to your specific needs. They can talk to you about the potential advantages and disadvantages of the treatments.
Addressing post-exertional malaise (PEM) symptoms
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) might worsen even with the tiniest of physical, mental, or emotional activity.
It is common for the symptoms to worsen 12 to 48 hoursTrusted Source after the exercise and linger for many days or even weeks.
Pacing, also known as activity management, can help prevent PEM flare-ups by balancing rest and exercise. Find out what you can and can’t do in terms of both mental and physical activity and plan accordingly.
The “energetic envelope” is a term used by some clinicians to describe this range. Personal boundaries can be discovered by keeping a diary of your daily routine.
Despite the fact that rigorous aerobic exercise is beneficial for the majority of chronic diseases, people with CFS are unable to perform them.
Home remedies and lifestyle changes
You may be able to alleviate some of your symptoms by making some lifestyle adjustments.
Insomnia might be made easier by reducing or eliminating your caffeine usage. Nicotine and alcohol use should be restricted or avoided as well.
If daytime naps are interfering with your ability to sleep at night, stop taking them.
Set a bedtime routine that works for you. Set a consistent bedtime and wakeup time for yourself each day.
Not every symptom can be addressed by a single drug. In addition, the drugs you take may have to be adjusted as your symptoms change..
Depression can be triggered or exacerbated by CFS in many circumstances. A mental health professional or low-dose antidepressant therapy may be necessary for you.
Medications may be used if lifestyle adjustments don’t help you get a good night’s sleep. CFS-related aches and pains can be eased with the use of pain-relieving medications.
If medication is necessary, it must be adapted to your specific situation. Maintain regular contact with your physician. When it comes to CFS, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
CFS patients may benefit from acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, and massage. Before embarking on any complementary or alternative therapies, consult with your doctor.
Pacing exercise for people with chronic fatigue syndrome
To avoid overdoing activities or exercise, it’s important to keep a steady pace, or limit yourself. As a starting point, here are a few tips:
- Make sure you know what your maximum weekly exercise level is without experiencing any ill effects or post-exertional malaise. If you have milder ME/CFS, a pedometer that tracks how far you walk, run, or bike on a given day may be useful in tracking your physical activity. Helps you keep track of intensity by using a heart rate tracker
- The first step is to accomplish less than you believe is possible, so that you have a better chance of succeeding.
- As long as you’re able to keep up your current level of activity, you should do so until you’ve built up sufficient energy and are completely at ease. The ideal degree of physical activity is one that can be repeated the following day without causing symptoms to flare up (including physical, cognitive or emotional).
- Before increasing your activities, make sure that you have the reserve necessary to do so without experiencing a flare-up of your symptoms. Only you and your own symptoms can tell you what your limits are; no one else can do this for you. Encouragement to “push yourself” may sound encouraging at first, but if they encourage you to go beyond your comfort zone, it can be harmful.
- Maintaining a steady level of activity or exercise until you can increase it without risking injury is a good strategy. You might reach a point where you shouldn’t go any further. Some people won’t be able to get any higher, so they’ll need to stay where they are for the time being.
- Achieve a healthy balance between physical, mental, and emotional activity by dividing your time into short, alternating periods of activity. Keep in mind that your emotional reserves will be depleted. It’s best to avoid following rigid exercise or fitness regimens and instead find a way to incorporate activities that are specific to your abilities. For some, this may just entail taking a few minutes each day to sit up and take a breather.
- If you’ve overdone activity or exercise, or if you’ve had a relapse for any reason, lower your engagement level and take extra rest. It’s possible to have a long-lasting and severe relapse if you repeatedly overdo it, resulting in a worsening of many ME/CFS symptoms.
General exercise tips for people with chronic fatigue syndrome
However, here are some broad guidelines for your doctor or specialist’s advice:
- Find out what form of exercise works best for you by experimenting. Stretching, yoga, tai chi, strolling, and modest weight training are all options.
- A long-term picture of your performance levels and circumstances that may have an impact on your symptoms can be obtained by keeping an activity diary.
- Stop exercising as soon as you begin to experience any symptoms. Pacing yourself is extremely crucial.
Keep in mind that your ability to exercise varies from day to day.
- Take a day off if you don’t feel like working out, and don’t force yourself to do so.
- Determine the extent of your ME/CFS. Make sure that your health care providers are knowledgeable with ME/CFS as a’real’ biological illness.
Support for people with chronic fatigue syndrome
There has to be an understanding that people with ME/CFS have a physiologic response to exercise or activity that is aberrant.
With a greater understanding of ME/CFS, sufferers can better cope with the illness and maintain a positive approach. Be informed about ME/CFS to the fullest extent possible It’s up to you whether you seek help from a doctor, physiotherapist, or ME/CFS association, read books on the issue, or peruse trustworthy ME/CFS websites.
To name only a few
- Research, advocacy, and assistance.
- Classes for both the general public and the professions.
- Self-management training for early intervention (face to face, or via telephone for people in rural areas or people who are housebound).
- Doctors who specialize in ME/CFS can be found here.
- Programs of assistance, especially those geared toward children and adolescents.
Talk to Your Doctor About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Consult your physician if you feel you have ME/CFS. Keeping a health journal or activity record can assist your doctor better understand your condition. It is possible to rule out other probable causes of your exhaustion with the help of your doctor The two of you can then come up with a strategy for dealing with the symptoms and getting them under control.
What can be expected in the long term?
There is still no known cause or cure for CFS, despite intensified research efforts. Only 5% of Trusted Sources can be recovered. Because of this, it can be difficult to manage CFS.
If you’re suffering from chronic fatigue, you’ll likely need to alter your lifestyle. Depression, anxiety, and social isolation are all possible side effects. Joining a support group can be beneficial when it comes to making decisions and going through transitions.
Everyone’s CFS advances in a different way, so working with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that suits your needs is essential.
With a team of healthcare providers, many people can reap the benefits of better health. Some examples of this include doctors and therapists.
Resources for CFS sufferers are available through the Solve ME/CFS Initiative. There are also recommendations for managing and coping with CFS from the CDCTrusted Source