The Many Faces of Chronic Fatigue
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Tapanui flu, Post Viral Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) are some of the many names given to this very complex condition. CFS can be a debilitating disorder, in some cases leaving sufferers unable to complete day to day tasks without feeling extreme fatigue. Others may be able to live a relatively normal life, but will have remissions from time to time during periods of emotional or physical stress.
While the medical community are divided as to what is the true case of CFS, many believe it’s due to the body’s extreme response to a viral infection. These include Epstein Barr Virus which is responsible for glandular fever or Cytomegalovirus another very common virus which has similar symptoms – tiredness, sore throat, swollen glands and in some cases inflammation of the liver. Both of these viruses remain latent in the body and in some cases can reactivate causing similar symptoms to the original infection.
Others believe that it’s actually a food or chemical sensitivity, which is responsible for the extreme fatigue. This may explain why those who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome often have troubles with leaky gut or Candida, both of which cause symptoms such as fatigue, muscle aches, bloating and foggy head.
There has been recent research suggesting that there may be a genetic predisposition causing some people’s bodies to react differently to viral infections or inflammation caused by food or chemical intolerances. While there are many differing opinions on the true cause of CFS most have the belief that there are three factors that all seem to play an important role:
- Altered sleep patterns – a non restorative sleep or poor sleep quality
- Previous viral infection
- Poor intestinal integrity caused by Candida or the over growth of the undesirable bacteria in the small intestine.
The symptoms of CFS are wide and varied. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Loss of memory or concentration
- Sore throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
- Unexplained muscle pain
- Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
- Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
There can be many more symptoms than those listed above, which is why this is such a difficult condition to both treat and diagnose. Although this condition does seem to affect more women between the ages 30 – 50 than men, CFS can occur at any age and is not specific to gender.
If you experience unexplained fatigue which has been present for 6 months or more, it is important you get this investigated by your medical practitioner to rule out any other causes such as anaemia, adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems or other serious health conditions.
In many cases orthodox medicine can do very little to help sufferers of CFS and this is where natural therapies can offer a variety of solutions such as food and chemical sensitivity testing. Often CFS suffers find adopting a diet focused on low allergen foods including the elimination of gluten and dairy, as well as focusing on increasing whole unprocessed foods can help with increasing energy levels.
Improving quality of sleep can be achieved by paying attention to your sleep hygiene habits. These include:
- Keeping the bedroom completely free from all screens and electronic devices
- Using the bed for sleeping rather than reading or watching tv or netflix
- Having at least 2 hours of screen free time before bed
- Assuring that the room is dark with as little light as possible
- Having a bed time routine such a relaxing bath or relaxing tea in the evening so that you are signalling to your body its time to wind down.
A personalised treatment plan using herbal tonics, supplements and other lifestyle advice can help by improving sleep quality, raising energy levels and increasing a sense of well being. Enabling you live the life you were born to! For some suffers this type of approach may help you go into a period of remission or help you on the road to full recovery. The thing to remember is that there is not one treatment plan that will fit everyone. It is about finding out what works for you. So if this sounds like you, come in and have a chat to one of us to see how we can help you.
As assistant manager of our store, Patricia is an integral member of our team. As well as being a Medical Herbalist, she is our resident Aromatherapist, Flower Essences practitioner and Reiki Master.