Some individuals suffer from a disorder called chronic fatigue syndrome wherein they cannot seem to recover or restore strength even after long periods of rest. There are several challenges that come with the condition because it has no identified true cause, no cure and no specific diagnostic examination. Doctors, patients and families should work together to cope with the effects of the condition. Patients can actually get better through symptomatic treatment and other types of therapies. Here is some more information.
Overview of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS is a condition wherein the affected individual presents extreme tiredness, weakness or fatigue. The fatigue is unique because it does not disappear after the person has rested. The condition can be chronic and patients will be limited in their ability to perform daily tasks and other routines. Some individuals can have CFS for a span of several months or even a few years. Other symptoms can also ensue together with the generalized fatigue or weakness. Some patients can have the condition for a long time without realizing it. The disorder is quite hard to distinguish from symptoms of other possible illnesses.
The true cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown. As a syndrome, it is composed of several symptoms that will lead to a number of problems and difficulty in the way patients perform, function and work. The problem usually occurs among men and women between the age of 40 and 50 years old. However, younger individuals can also develop the condition. Aside from having no true known cause, CFS also has no true cure. Interventions and approaches will focus more on the presenting symptoms. There are approaches that will help people manage discomfort, associated effects and sleep disturbances.
Development of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Doctors find chronic fatigue syndrome hard to determine since the symptoms can also be present in other possible diseases and illnesses. Some people usually develop CFS after having a major infection. When a person notices that he is usually tired for a span of at least six months, it is likely that he has the condition.
Some of the other relative effects include difficulty in concentrating, cognitive abilities and focusing. Memory may also be impaired. Doctors need to rule out other possible disease to properly diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome. Thousands of individuals are diagnosed with the condition each year. Many individuals with the disorder find it hard to work, study or even do leisure activities with family and friends. Depression and loss of confidence can occur over time.
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
To properly identify the presence of chronic fatigue syndrome, doctors will carefully consider all other present effects then rule out other possible conditions one after another. Some of the other conditions that can also lead to generalized feelings of fatigue or body weakness include thyroid problems, adrenal disorders, AIDS, HIV, cancer and a very stressful lifestyle. Another difficult thing about chronic fatigue syndrome is the absence of a specific diagnostic test that will immediately point out the problem accurately. Doctors will identify CFS based on the presenting signs and symptoms.
The physician might get the medical background and history of the patient to determine if the person had a recent infection. Affected individuals might also display problems in cognition such as having poor or short term memory, difficulty pronouncing words or communicating and verbal dyslexia. The person will continue feeling tired and weak even after sleep.
The patient will still complain of fatigue even after sleeping or napping for several hours. Sleep will not refresh or restore strength. Post-exertional fatigue can also be present which is characterized by excessive tiredness after doing regular activities. These may be activities that the person did not find hard to do before. Depression and other emotional effects can also follow because of the person’s lack of energy, enthusiasm and strength.
Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Once chronic fatigue syndrome has been properly diagnosed, doctors can start creating a sound program that will help restore strength and concentration. Since there is no cure for CFS, the program will focus more on the alleviation of signs and symptoms. The objective is to help the individual function better and tolerate different activities. It will take several weeks or months before people can improve. Some individuals never fully recover or might even have worsening effects if they continue to exert too much effort and tire themselves. Patients should consult their doctor about the right therapies that will rebuild endurance, strength and focus. Doctors will advise family members to participate in the treatment regimen and to record significant improvements.
The treatment approach for chronic fatigue syndrome is best done at home. Patients and their families can work together to determine the level of activity that is best tolerated to ensure that strength and stamina builds up over time.
The patient should not exert too much effort to drain his energy completely. They should also avoid too much emotional, mental or physical stress. Therapies should be aimed at decreasing fatigue, discomfort and pain. The person should also be given the right diet that will support normal function. Exercise must be regulated and supervised initially by a physical therapist. Total rest might not be good for some patients. Regular and timed rest periods are recommended. Patients should also reduce their intake of caffeine and alcohol to improve sleep.
More Treatment Approaches for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS may also be treated using traditional methods like chiropractics, acupuncture, visualization, deep breathing, massage and self-hypnosis. People can also try a number of supplements, medications and herbal products that will improve muscle condition and overall strength and stamina. Some of the natural remedies may include garlic, St. John’s wort, ginseng and Ginkgo biloba. Some drugs may also help alleviate the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome such as NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, anxiolytic agents and muscle relaxants. Monitor the response of patients to these treatments and report any unusual side effects. Also be careful when taking medications with herbs or supplements.