Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a chronic illness that can seriously alter a person’s ability to live a normal life. It can affect the whole body and cause extreme fatigue and pain. It is estimated between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans have CFS, and most will go undiagnosed. (Institute of Medicine Report, 2015)
Is There A Cure For Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic fatigue wasn’t considered to be a real illness in the past. More recently, experts have taken it more seriously and extensive research is being done to find out the cause and treatment. Chronic fatigue is very complex and can affect many systems of the body. Due to a wide range of symptoms that also resemble other conditions, it is hard to diagnose CFS. Even though there is no cure, medical treatments and lifestyle strategies can help with varying symptoms. For some patients, learning how to manage activity and knowing physical limitations can be very helpful.
Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue
(No. 1) Post-exertional Malaise (PEM)
When symptoms worsen after even minor physical, mental or emotional exertion, it is called Post-exertional malaise (PEM). Within 12 to 48 hours after the activity, symptoms will typically get worse and can last for weeks. Sensory overload can also induce PEM for some patients. Patients can often be successful with managing their activity, also known as pacing. Pacing requires patients to balance activity and rest to try to avoid any flare-ups caused by exertion. To help with PEM symptoms, patients can also try to make tasks easier by taking frequent breaks, dividing up larger tasks, or sitting while showering & folding clothes. It is important to remember PEM is unpredictable and each treatment plan needs to be tailored for each case.
(No. 2) Sleep Problems
Common sleep issues associated with chronic fatigue include extreme sleepiness, nighttime muscle spasms, restless legs, difficulty falling or staying asleep, and intense dreaming. Practicing good sleep hygiene (good sleep habits) is important for everyone, especially for those with CFS. Those who try to adopt better sleep habits and are still unsuccessful with sleeping better can also take over-the-counter sleeping aids. If this still doesn’t work, doctors can order prescription sleep aids but should only be used when needed & for the shortest possible time.
If patients taking sleeping aids still do not feel refreshed when they wake after a full night’s rest, they should consider visiting a sleep clinic or seeing a sleep professional. Sleeping disorders including sleep-disordered breathing, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy can be treated. However, for patients with CFS, not all symptoms will dissipate depending on their individual case.
(No. 3) Pain
CFS patients will often have deep pain within their joints and muscles. They may also experience soreness when their skin is touched and have pressure-like headaches. For pain management, doctors may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers. Patients may need to see a pain specialist if pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen do not provide enough relief. Those with chronic pain can benefit from counseling and other pain management methods to deal with the pain. Some healing methods include gentle massage, acupuncture, stretching, movement therapy, heat, toning exercises, and water therapy.
(No. 4) Anxiety, Stress, & Depression
Dealing with a chronic illness can sometimes lead to other issues or problems including stress, anxiety, and depression. When anxiety or depression are present, they should be treated with anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications. However, while treating these conditions is helpful, it will not cure CFS. It’s important to work closely with a doctor as some drugs used to treat depression can also cause side effects that may increase CFS symptoms.
(No. 5) Lightheadedness & Dizziness
Those suffering from CFS might also have symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness (orthostatic intolerance) that are triggered by sitting upright or standing.
The symptoms of orthostatic intolerance may include:
- Frequent spells of feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Feeling weak
- Vision problems including seeing white or dark spots and blurred vision
- Heart beating too hard or fast, skipping a beat or fluttering
Patients who are suffering from these symptoms should have a doctor check their blood pressure, heart rate and may be referred to a neurologist or cardiologist.
Help For Chronic Fatigue: Contact Just Breathe DDS
Patients suffering from chronic fatigue should discuss potential therapies with their doctor since many promoted treatments for chronic fatigue are often unproven, costly, and potentially dangerous. Contact Just Breathe DDS in Coeur d’Alene Idaho for help with finding the root causes for your excessive sleepiness, little to no energy, weakness, and other symptoms of chronic fatigue. Your symptoms could be a result of a sleep disorder or other health issues. Call us today to learn how devastating interrupted sleep can be to your health. For better sleep and a new level of wellness, give us a call today at (208) 500-3030.