Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) – also called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) – has many symptoms that may be associated with it. It can be tricky to get a diagnosis of ME as there are no tests that can confirm it either way. Usually doctors diagnose the condition over a period of time in which they take a thorough medical history and carry out various tests to check hormones, nutrient levels, immune function and psychiatric imbalances to rule out possible underlying causes behind the symptoms.
There is not one single definition of chronic fatigue, but it is generally agreed that there is severe fatigue which has lasted at least 6 months. Symptoms are exacerbated by physical or mental exertion. There are no other medical conditions that would explain the symptoms.
Other symptoms associated with chronic fatigue include aches and pains, depression, headaches, digestive symptoms, sensitivity to light and noise, swollen glands and disorientation.
Chronic fatigue can go on for years. Some people suffer bouts of it with periods of remittance, while others have it for a period of time and then get better.
Possible contributory factors include previous viral or bacterial infections, blood sugar imbalances, food intolerances, environmental sensitivities, use of antibiotics or other medications, an imbalance in gut bacteria, hormonal imbalances, poor diet, liver toxicity and/or chronic stress.
Dietary and lifestyle changes can improve symptoms and speed healing. The following may help, but it is essential to get checked out by a medical specialist if you have experienced fatigue or other chronic symptoms.
- Avoid foods to which you might be intolerant – wheat, dairy and yeast are common culprits.
- Keep blood sugar levels stable – eat small, regular meals and snacks and avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Eat organic where possible – also use natural cleaning products and body care products.
- Take probiotics and digestive enzymes to support digestion, absorption and the immune system.
- Learn relaxation techniques and do them daily – breathing exercises, tai chi, yoga, stretching and meditation can all help.
- Listen to your body and rest when you need. Avoid overdoing it even on days where you feel a bit more energetic.