Chronic fatigue syndrome treatments involve lifestyle changes, exercise, drug therapy, cognitive therapy, and bodywork. That’s the conventional treatment. Patients are advised to practice good sleep hygiene, eat proper diet, do few movements as their exercise, and do frequent rest in-between each exercise session. Traditionally, they are also given sleeping pills, antidepressants, stimulants, muscle relaxants, beta blockers, anticonvulsants and vasopressors to manage symptoms accordingly. But did you know that there are newer approaches to treat chronic fatigue syndrome?
There is one antiviral drug that is approved by FDA to combat cytomegalovirus. It is called Valcyte. It has also shown to be effective against Epstein-Barr virus and herpes virus 6 which may account for a number of chronic fatigue syndrome cases.
Another drug that is used for narcolepsy is being used now as one of the chronic fatigue syndrome treatments. Provigil is a central nervous system (CNS) acting drug, and CFS patients who take it feel that they are more alert. Some reports also claim that they have increased tolerance to exercise with the use of Provigil.
Since patients with chronic fatigue syndrome tend to have lower blood volume, they experience hypotension and rapid heart rate as their body compensates. To address this, certain measures are done. Before, only vasopressors like midodrine are prescribed to increase one’s blood pressure. Nowadays, methylphenidate, epoetin alfa and tyrosine may also be prescribed along with vasopressors. Tyrosine is an amino acid found to have an effect in circulating blood volume. Methylphenidate is a drug of choice for ADHD, but is also used to increase blood pressure. Epoetin alfa is injected to stimulate the growth of erythrocytes, thereby increasing the blood volume and blood pressure. Sometimes, beta blockers are used to increase blood pressure, although it is more common as an antihypertensive. Patients are also advised to increase their salt and water intake if they have low blood pressures so that water may be retained in the body, thus blood volume is increased.
Though these newer chronic fatigue syndrome treatments are available, they are still under research, therefore conventional treatment options should still be used. Exercise is one part of the treatment options that should not be missed. People with CFS cannot tolerate usual exercise programs, thus their program should be individualized. They should also avoid extremes, which mean that they cannot overdo or totally avoid exercise. A matter of balance between their daily activities is all they need. They must divide their exercise into 2-3 sessions per day so that they can take rests in between.
Counseling and cognitive therapy is another part of chronic fatigue syndrome treatments that should not be disregarded. Usually, this chronic condition is related to a patient’s psychological health. Therefore, issues about grief or anger should be identified and properly managed. Doctors also have to correct ill beliefs and behaviors of patients so this therapy is really needed so that they can cope with stress. Support groups are always available for chronic fatigue patients to help them with their social needs.