Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an extremely serious, long-term condition that affects numerous body systems. Individuals with ME/Cfs are often unable to perform most physical activities. Activities of daily living, including work, school and social activities, are often severely limited or altered due to the inability to cope with symptoms. In some cases, ME/Cfs may even require special equipment, such as wheelchairs, for mobility. This article details ME/Cfs and discusses some of the causes, symptoms and treatments of this debilitating condition.
ME/Cfs is believed to be triggered by the release of excessive amounts of cytokines by the immune system. These” cytokines” are part of what is known as the “ergy response”. An excess of these inflammatory chemicals may be the cause of one of two different types of chronic conditions – infectious mononucleosis and Candida (yeast infections). Research has shown that the buildup of these chemicals within the body can result in a number of physical symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue and depression.
ME/Cfs often begins during post-exertional malaise, or after strenuous activity or exercise. Common symptoms include extreme exhaustion, muscle and joint pain, fever, and chills. A number of researchers and physicians believe that a combination of these symptoms is used to identify ME/Cfs, as they share many similar characteristics with other illnesses such as cancer and the flu. Some researchers theorize that the body’s natural defenses are ineffective in combating the infection, leading to a prolonged exposure which triggers chronic fatigue.
Research has shown that many people with ME/Cfs have certain immune system abnormalities, suggesting the possibility of a neurological disorder. ME/Cfs typically begins when the body’s white blood cells (panleukopenia) are unable to fight off a virus or bacteria that invade the body. Since these cells normally attack viruses and bacteria before they cause serious problems, the onset of ME/Cfs suggests an abnormal response that can then trigger other symptoms. For example, if the ME/Cfs’ symptoms last for several days or weeks, they may be related to another condition that requires medical attention.
Since ME/Cfs usually begin during or just after peak activity levels, researchers believe that it is important to get better acquainted with patients before they determine whether or not they have this illness. Common signs and symptoms may include frequent urination, the inability to focus or concentrate, headaches, muscle and joint pain, sleepiness, depression, dizziness, memory loss, feelings of guilt and emotional upheaval, irritability, difficulty concentrating, nausea and vomiting. If you are experiencing at least four of these symptoms, you should seriously consider getting a full physical examination. If you do not get a conclusive diagnosis from a physician in a timely manner, you may still be misdiagnosed with another illness, resulting in a significant waste of time and money. Likewise, if you are able to properly diagnose ME/Cfs, you can then use various treatment options to help improve the quality of your life.
In addition to the above-mentioned symptoms, ME/Cfs patients may also have orthostatic intolerance, post-exertional malaise, due to the ongoing suppression of the immune system triggers that occur just prior to bedtime, low energy levels that cause fatigue, and sleep problems caused by disrupted sleep cycles. This list of symptoms can also be used to help determine when ME/Cfs is actually present and in what form it manifests itself. For example, post-exertional malaise occurs immediately after exertion, which means it could indicate a relapse of ME/Cfs, while chronic fatigue syndrome can manifest itself as long periods of poor sleep lasting several days or weeks, indicating a more severe case of ME/Cfs.