Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a chronic disorder characterized by severe fatigue that lasts for at least six months and cannot be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue worsens with physical or mental activity but does not improve with rest. The cause of the condition is unknown, but there are many theories. The condition affects both men and women and can occur at any age, but is more common in women in their 40s and 50s. There is no single test to confirm a diagnosis of ME/CFS and a variety of medical tests may be required to rule out other health problems with similar symptoms.

What are the symptoms of ME/CFS?

Some common symptoms of ME/CFS include:

  • Fatigue can range from mild to severe and does not improve with rest
  • Brain fog which can include difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or armpits
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness that worsens when moving from lying down or sitting to standing
  • Unrefreshing sleep or poor sleep
  • Extreme exhaustion after physical or mental exercise

Symptoms may vary from person to person and can change over time, and not all people with ME/CFS will have all the symptoms.

What are the causes of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?

The cause of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is still unknown, and it is believed that different people with ME/CFS may have different causes for their fatigue. Some potential triggers or causes of ME/CFS include:

  • Viral infections: Some people develop ME/CFS after having a viral infection (post-viral syndrome). Viruses that have been suspected include the Epstein-Barr virus, human herpes virus 6, and COVID-19, among others.
  • Chronic Lyme disease: Lyme disease has been linked to extreme fatigue, and often chronic sufferers are often first diagnosed with ME/CFS and fibromyalgia.
  • Immune system markers: The immune systems of people who have ME/CFS appear to be impaired slightly, but it is unclear if this impairment is enough to cause the disorder. It is possible that this is linked to an underlying undiagnosed infection (such as a virus or Lyme disease) or an autoimmune disease.
  • Autoimmune disease: ME/CFS can be a symptom of a known autoimmune disorder and is also suspected to be an autoimmune disease itself.
  • Hormonal imbalances: People who have ME/CFS may experience abnormal hormone imbalances.
  • Physical or emotional trauma: Some people report that they experienced an injury, surgery, or significant emotional stress shortly before their symptoms began.
  • Diet and lifestyle factors: Contributing factors can be related to food allergies or sensitivities or environmental triggers.
  • Chemical sensitivities: Many people with ME/CFS have an underlying sensitivity to chemicals and fragrances used in their daily life and are unaware of the impacts on their health.

It is important to note that there is no evidence that these triggers or causes are exclusive to ME/CFS and it is not known if these triggers or causes are the direct cause of the illness or if they are just associated with the illness.

What are some myths and misconceptions about ME/CFS?

  • "It's all in your head." ME/CFS is a real physical illness, not a psychological disorder. Many people with ME/CFS have been told that their symptoms are "all in their head" or that they are just "depressed" or "anxious." This is not the case.
  • "It's rare." ME/CFS is actually quite common, affecting millions of people worldwide.
  • "There's no treatment." While there is no cure for ME/CFS, there are a variety of treatments available that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
  • "It's a new illness." ME/CFS has been recognized as a distinct illness for decades, and it has been known by different names over time.
  • "It only affects older people." ME/CFS can affect people of all ages, including children and adolescents.
  • "It's a mild illness." The symptoms of ME/CFS can be severe and debilitating, making it difficult for people to carry out daily activities.
  • "It's self-inflicted." ME/CFS is not caused by lifestyle choices or a lack of willpower. It is an illness that is not under the control of the person who has it.

It is important to address the misconceptions and myths surrounding ME/CFS to help increase awareness and understanding of the illness, and to ensure that people with ME/CFS receive the appropriate care and support they need.

How is ME/CFS treated?

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complex illness, and treatment will vary depending on the individual case and symptoms. Conventional medicine primarily treats the symptoms of ME/CFS, using medications like antidepressants, which can be helpful in managing symptoms, but may not address the underlying cause of the illness.

Some treatments that may be used to manage the symptoms of ME/CFS include:

  • Medications: Antidepressants and other medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms such as pain, sleep disturbance, and fatigue.
  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist can help design an exercise program that is tailored to your individual needs, and can help you learn how to pace your activities to avoid exacerbating your symptoms.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can help you learn how to manage your thoughts and behaviors related to your illness and help you cope with the limitations it imposes on your life.
  • Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist can help you learn how to modify your work or home environment to make it more manageable, and can help you find ways to continue to do the things you enjoy.
  • Alternative therapies: Some people find relief from symptoms with alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.

Ananta Health takes a more proactive role in aiding the patient to improve their quality of life overall. This process starts by assessing the patient's history and testing with the BioScan SRT. Causes or contributors to the fatigue such as candidaparasitesLyme diseasepost-viral syndromefood sensitivities and allergiesheavy metal toxicity and environmental sensitivities need to be determined. Treatment will often include diet recommendations, lifestyle changes and supplements and herbs according to each patient's needs.

It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for ME/CFS, and it's important to work with a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about the condition, and who can help you find the treatment plan that works best for you.

Can acupuncture treat ME/CFS?

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. Some studies have suggested that acupuncture may be beneficial for the treatment and management of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The theory behind acupuncture is that it helps to balance the body's energy or "qi" and promote healing.

Acupuncture may help to alleviate symptoms of ME/CFS such as fatigue, pain, and sleep disturbances by:

  • Improving circulation and promoting the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the body's cells
  • Reducing inflammation and pain
  • Regulating the immune system
  • Improving the quality of sleep
  • Reducing stress and anxiety

It is important to note that not all studies have found acupuncture to be effective in treating ME/CFS, and more research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits for this condition.