Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Alternative Treatments

Are you getting a good nights rest and still feeling tired? Are you so tired that you are unable to do much of anything else. Are you also experiencing muscle and joint pain though there is not any swelling? Maybe you also have a sore throat, night sweats, nausea, dizziness or shortness of breath. These are all symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. This disorder affects men and woman, mostly woman, in their thirties. These are men an woman who were formerly healthy. What is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and how can you treat it.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disorder that affects the mind and various systems within the body. The Center for Disease Control first recognized this syndrome in 1988. Unfortunately, we do not know what causes CFS and there are not any specific tests that can be done to diagnose people with CFS. Doctors believe that it could have been a combination of multiple triggers such as stress, viral infection, nutrient deficiency, toxins and hormone imbalances.

The best that they can do as far as diagnosing a person with CFS is to look for the extreme fatigue that is not alleviated with rest coupled with at least four of the following symptoms. These symptoms are impaired short-term memory or concentration that has an effect on normal activities. A sore throat, tender lymph nodes in the neck or underarms, muscle pain, pain in multiple joint with no redness or swelling, headaches of a new type or severity, non-restful sleep and general malaise after physical exercise that lasts for more then 24 hours. These symptoms have to be present for six month or more.

Current research is suggesting that what CFS is, is actually myalgic encephalomyelitis which is a disorder that affects the nervous, immune and endocrine systems. Several researchers believe that it could be a new form of polio.

As frustrating as it is to feel so tired that even the simplest of tasks are to exerting there are things that you can do to help treat CFS. There are medicines that can be prescribed to treat the various symptoms, but at this time there is no conventional treatment for it. This has many sufferers of CFS looking for alternative methods.

Supplements have been effective in the treatment of CFS. Especially antioxidants, these nutrients kill some of the possible triggers such as bacteria and viruses. Other supplements known to aid in the treatment of CFS include B vitamins, Vitamin C, magnesium, sodium, zinc, L-carnitine, coenzyme Q-10, and essential fatty acids.

Herbal remedies have been used successfully as well. Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Astragalaus membranaceus, and Withania somnifera. Some help to strengthen the immune system and others work with red blood cells and maximizing oxygen delivery, improving general body function.

There is another alternative treatment known as CBT or cognitive behavior therapy. CBT has helped many patients feel improvements in general energy levels and the numbers of hours they were able to work per week. CBT has helped patients free their mind of negative thoughts and nonproductive belief systems, helping them focus on the positive things in life and learning effective coping techniques.

If you are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome there are things that you can do to help you lead a more normal life. While there are not any lab tests to help us and doctors do not really understand what causes CFS there are treatments available to you.

Depression and Fatigue

Are you feeling depressed? Are you feeling fatigued? Are you feeling depressed and fatigued? Do you start feeling depressed, then start to feel fatigued? Do you feel fatigued for a week, then begin to feel depressed? Well, you are not alone. A 2004 study by lead author Petros Skapinakis, MD, MHD, Ph. D, revealed a strong correlation between fatigue and depression. This followed up a 2000 study by Skapinakis, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, that also showed a correlation between fatigue and depression.

The 2004 longitudinal study followed 3,201 subjects from 14 different countries for 12 months. The objective was to clarify the relationship between depression and unexplained chronic fatigue. The results showed a very strong correlation: the chronically depressed subjects were more than 4 times as likely to suffer from unexplained chronic fatigue. The subjects suffering through unexplained, chronic fatigue were almost 3 times as likely to contract a new episode of depression. The results clearly show that depression, in addition to depressing your mood, will bring down your energy level as well.

The 2000 study examined census data from 12,730 subjects in Great Britain. The analysis showed that individuals suffering from psychiatric morbidity had higher rates of unexplained chronic fatigue. These two studies prove a strong correlation, but they also provide room for further speculation. Are fatigue and depression two symptoms of the same physical or mental problem? Or does one cause the other? An intuitive story can easily be drawn to explain the cause-and-effect relationship-man becomes depressed, battles all day with mental conflict, loses motivation, is tired and sluggish since 'not doing anything' (in reality he is using his energy in mental wars all day and night). The story could also work in reverse-man is tired day after day, for no apparent reason. He can not perform as well at work or in his personal life, and therefore he becomes depressed. This relationship is obvious and clear.

However, the studies prove this causality themselves. The possibility still remains that this fatigue and depression are both actually caused by a third phenomenon. This third, independent factor could be chemical, mental, or even an external, socioeconomic factor.

I personally subscribe to the cause-and-effect model, but would be interested to see the results of further studies. The debilitating spiral of depression and fatigue is very difficult to overcome. It could be a boon to the afflicted to pinpoint an independent outside cause of their depression and fatigue. This factor could be addressed and corrected, thereby alleviating the depression and fatigue. One can only hope for more research and improvements in the science of this mental health struggle.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis: 4 Notable Concerns for Women

Myalgic encephalomyelitis has all the elements of a woman's disease and should be given special attention. This chronic fatigue and neuro-immune disorder has several labels and descriptions, all of which are still evolving. It is one of the most confusing illnesses for both patient and physician. Mainstream doctors and many science researchers are also at odds with its label, scratching their heads to determine the exact nature and cause of the disorder to establish a viable basis for treatment.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is not a new illness; it has been around since 1955 where its name was first coined by Doctor Melvin Ramsay. In 1969 it was officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a separate disorder from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and its description was established as an organic neurological disorder.

People from all ethnicities and demographics are affected by myalgic encephalomyelitis; however, like many autoimmune and chronic pain conditions it is more common in women. As many as seventy per cent of patients diagnosed with the disorder, are women. This statistic, along with women's long history of susceptibilities to autoimmune syndromes, makes ME a disease for women to watch out for.

The definition for ME is best described as:

"A complex disease involving profound deregulation of the central nervous system and immune system, [in addition to] dysfunction of cellular energy metabolism and cardiovascular abnormalities."

The disorder manifests itself as a long-term disabling, systemic disease, a description provided by the National Alliance of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, cognitive disorder, headaches, disturbed sleep patterns, and muscular and joint pains.

The symptoms of ME are often not taken seriously from first onset, and this is not just from physicians, but particularly from sufferers themselves who often dismiss symptoms as a normal part of juggling the stresses of family and career.

When It's Time To See Your Health Care Provider

1. Extreme Fatigue and Heart Disease in Women
Extreme fatigue and gastrointestinal upsets resemble the symptoms of another serious disease that affects women, (symptomatically different from men) that of a heart attack. On-going symptoms of exhaustion, marked by a reduction of normal activities by as much as fifty per cent or more which is unrelieved with adequate bed-rest. Coupled with gastrointestinal interference this condition mimics some of the unique symptoms of a heart attack in women and should not be taken lightly.

2. Mental Confusion – Feeling like you are "Losing It"
Women have a lot on their plate as nurturers, homemakers, and income providers so much so that confusion, headaches, and short term memory loss may seem ordinary. If all of these elements are present consider a chat with your physician:
• Difficulty processing information – confusion, cognitive overload, dyslexia and slowed speech
• Short term memory loss – difficulty retrieving words, difficult remembering what one wanted to say, and poor working memory
• Chronic headaches – migraines, and prolonged tension headaches
• Neurosensory disorders – susceptibility to focus, sensitivities to vibration, noise and light

3. Psychological Component – Depression & Anxiety
Depression worsens the symptoms of any disease and often becomes a deepening spiral that is difficult to get out of, especially when it progresses too far. Depression and anxiety are fragile emotional states that are a natural response to developing ME. These emotions are usually as a result of the helplessness that women feel. Studies show that women commonly report feeling trapped in their own bodies during times of depression and anxiety.

When feelings of depression and anxiety are also accompanied by any of the following psychological symptoms, these should not be ignored:
• Sleep disturbance and non-restorative sleep
• Dismissals of friends and family and refusal to have visitors or socializing
• Persistent negative thoughts and a self-critical attitude

4: Tender, Swollen Lymph Nodes
One of the symptoms of myalgic encephalomyelitis is tender lymph nodes, especially under the arms and neck and a vulnerability to infection. This is usually an indication of immune activity and involvement. Tender, painful and swollen lymph are signs of infections and should be checked out. Swollen lymph around the breasts can mimic auspicious lumps or tumors linked to breast cancer. Women who conduct regular monthly breast self-examinations typically are more comfortable in telling the difference. All suspicious and painful lumps should always be professionally examined.

The tendency of most women is to give more of them while ignoring body signals that are sure warning signals that it is time to slow down or receive a health check. The noticeable distinction with ME from other disorders is the prolonged non -orative sleep, exercise intolerance, and cognitive problems rule out from any psychiatric conditions.

Although no noticeable actual cause has been established it is highly likely that the body's ability to cope with stress is somehow connected. Therefore, ways to cope with stress will give the best recovery from this condition. Yoga and meditation will clear the mind and allow for a different perspective on your life and where it is going, to negate stress and encourage greater contentment and happiness to return.

Please Understand My Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is not a new malady that suddenly emerged five or ten years ago. Twenty-five years ago, it was known as fibrositis. Some people think that when people were diagnosed with lumbago years ago, they actually had fibromyalgia. And still others think that those darling spinsters in the 1800's who relied on homemade alcohol to ease pains that doctors insured were imaginary were actually suffering from fibromyalgia.

Today, thankfully, most doctors recognize fibromyalgia as a real problem. Finally, research is being done to find the cause (s) and adequate treatments of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, which often accompanies fibro.

Some describe the symptoms of fibromyalgia as being similar to having the flu all the time. One can have headaches, pains through the body, nausea, and fatigue. But unlike the flu, fibromyalgia does not go away. Those symptoms are a daily occurrence. Prescription and over-the-counter medications can alleviate them, as can chiropractic or acupuncture treatments, but fibromyalgia can not – yet – be cured.

It helps the fibro patient to know that doctors have recognized this syndrome as a real problem. Now, rather than just offering a pain pill or scheduling patients for mental evaluation, doctors are willing to set up a program of treatment. They have read the research papers, and they are willing to spend time trying to help patients find comfort as research into the causes and cures continue.

It is also imperative that family and friends understand, but that may not be as easy a task. Family and friends see the fibromyalgia patient on more regularly basis. To them, it appears that their loved one has good days where the symptoms do not affect the life or attitude of the patient. While that may appear to be the case, it is not exactly true. A fibromyalgia patient may, indeed, spend the day with family and friends at the park or the beach, and appear to be "normal." The next day, that "normal" person will, most likely, succumb to the pains and fatigue and be forced to spend time in bed to recuperate from the activities that Invigorated others in the family.

Recently, I discovered the site of a fibromyalgia patient who violated when she learned that one friend understood her enough to explain her and her malady to another friend. The first friend asked the second one to imagine a day when she had overextended herself, where she had done too many physical and mental activities and had to recuperate the following day. This friend suggested that the second woman imagine a time when she was so physically exhausted that she ached from head to toe. She told her to imagine being so mentally fatigued that she had just a touch of "foggy brain" or memory loss. And then she explained that their mutual friend – the fibromyalgia patient – experienced these kinds of physical and mental exhaustion each and every day.

How satisfing it had to be to know that a friend cared enough to understand and to explain her and defend her to another.

So, here's my challenge to you. Visit some web sites that provide information about fibromyalgia, check out a few studies, and read a few essays by persons with fibromyalgia. Then write your own explanation of what fibromyalgia is or how it affects those who live with it every day.

Why should you do this? First, May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month. Those of us who suffer with fibromyalgia would love to know that our neighbors, friends and family care and understand.

And, secondly, you should do some research and try to understand FM because in the past, it has been poorly understood and commonly misdiagnosed. Fibromyalgia sufferers make up as much as 4% of the entire population. Still, they were left to doubt themselves as doctors struggled to understand and diagnose the disease. What a difficult task that was, since fibromyalgia symptoms can change by the hour! I know mine often do.

According to the National Foundation for Fibromyalgia, 12 million Americans suffer from FM but remain undiagnosed. While fibromyalgia is most common in women, especially between the ages of 20 and 50, it can affect men, the elderly and children. Kids are often mistakenly diagnosed with growing pains or behavioral problems. And often times, FM is mistaken for chronic fatigue syndrome, since the symptoms are similar and the two can go hand-in-hand.

You, or someone you love, could be a fibromyalgia sufferer without knowing it. Should not you find out everything you can? Today?

*****

Disclaimer: I am not part of the medical community. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2003. Like most fibro patients, I have been forced to do research about the malady myself.

8 Ways to Beat Fatigue

Over two million Americans complain of being fatigued each day, not to mention the four Million who have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. With the chronic tiredness often comes lack of focus, feelings of being overwhelmed, flu-like symptoms, pain, memory loss, chronic aches and pains, unrestful sleep, short temper and even depression.

While many people accept their tiredness as part and parcel of their daily lives, it needs not be the standard way of life. Yes, we are more over-worked and stressed out than ever, but the following 8 lifestyle changes can make all the difference.

Balance carbohydrates

If you eat lunches that are high in carbohydrates but low in protein, you may find yourself feeling tired in the afternoon. That's because carbohydrates increase the brain's production of calming chemical serotonin. Research suggests that protein, by limiting serotonin production, can boost carbohydrates-induced sleepiness. You may not need to decrease overall carbohydrates or increase your protein consumption (carbs should make up the bulk of a healthy diet, and most of us consume plenty of protein). Instead, try to make sure your meals contains a balance of carbohydrates and protein. This should help you avoid those mid-afternoon slumps.

Do not snooze – till – noon weekends

Some clever work drone may have once said, "I'll catch up on all of my sleep the first year I'm dead." But most of us opt for Saturday mornings. Bad move, for we each have a biological clock that determinates when we are sleepy and when we are alert. When you wake up every morning at seven but sleep until noon on the weekends, you can upset your biological clock and end up feeling even more fatigued.

If partially has to do with the body's release of cortisol, a hormone associated with alertness, which begins for seven – o'clock risers between three and four in the morning and peaks at about eleven. When you lie in bed past this time, you suppress the level of cortisol. This can dump your brain into that weekend twilight zone. Catch up on weekends by going to bed early, not sleeping late. To keep your biological clock happy, it is best to wake up every morning at about the same time.

Compartmentalize your time

One of the main reasons people feel overworked, stressed out and unhappy is because they do not prioritize their time. They often feel a greater obligation to their job than to their family, themselves, or to friends. And this is draining physically, spiritually, and emotionally and can lead to an unpleasing home life. The key to maintaining harmony and prevent burnout is to set time each day for work, family, social occasions and for your own quiet time. All of these areas need to be met to maintain a whole life that is full of love, happiness and energy.

Drink more water

Once you feel thirsty, you're already begun to lose a significant amount of fluid, according to sports nutritionist Kristine Clare. As your fluid level decrease, you'll start to notice a decline in physical performance. It makes sense. A lack of water can cause a decrease in blood volume, and that can bring on fatigue. Drink eight to ten glasses of water a day, or more if you exercise heavily.

Drug side effects

Sure, you know that certain antihistamines, cold medications and cough syrups can make you drowsy. But you may not have known that the list of potential energy sappers features many other familiar drugs that can cause drowsiness in some people. These include certain blood – pressure medications and even some diuretics. If you feel tired or run – down, ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medication you're taking may be the cause, and what alternatives may be available.

Stress

The pressure of a deadline can leave you wiped out for the afternoon. Fear makes you tende your muscles, which leads to fatigue, just as if you were out chopping wood. Fear can also make you hold your breath, depriving you of oxygen. This, too, can lead to fatigue.

Next time you're in the hot seat, close your eyes and envision yourself in a tranquil setting. Concentrate in breathing deeply and slowly. Whenever possible, you schedule some discomforting event in the morning so you do not spend the other day worrying about it.

Eyestrain

If you're having a hard time focusing, you're probably twisting your body into awkward position, leading forward into the computer screen or hunching over your desk. Vision problems also hamper concentration, which can cause fatigue. Have your vision checked, and take a five – minute break from your computer or paper work every hour. Use the time to do other tasks, such as making phone calls.

Somber colors

Surrounding yourself with nothing but somber colors can make you both fatigued and depressed. Add warm colors to your environment such as yellow, orange and especially red. These are the colors of fire. After eons of association, we are programmed to respond to them. If you want a quick cure for fatigue, focus on something red. A few items placed nearby should do the trick. But do not overdo it. Your environment can become too stimulating, ant that, too, can be exhausting.