Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an extremely common medical problem. Health-care providers can’t seem to agree on what CFS is, what causes it, how to diagnose it — or even whether it exists at all. Many medical doctors even believe that CFS is strictly a psychological problem and automatically prescribe antidepressants.
The facts: Millions of Americans suffer from fatigue and need medical help. To complicate matters further, CFS is not a single disease with a sole cause or a simple cure. Rather, it is the manifestation of one or more underlying health problems, such as infections, hormone imbalances or numerous other conditions. The goal of treatment is not simply to mask the symptoms — it is to identify the root cause or causes in an individual patient and then recommend the appropriate healing therapies.
CHRONIC INFECTION – Persistent infection is an often-missed cause of CFS. Examples…
Various viruses. Sometimes viruses that normally die off within weeks instead linger on, weakening the immune system and compromising energy production. Possible culprits: Herpes Viruses (Epstein-Barr/Mononucleosis, Herpes Virus 6).
Bacterial infections. When the normal balance of friendly bacteria in the gut is disturbed — for instance, due to a high-sugar diet or use of antibiotics — harmful bacteria proliferate in the digestive tract. This can overtax the immune system and lead to chronic fatigue.
CARDIOVASCULAR PROBLEMS – Fatigue is a common symptom of various cardiovascular conditions that impair circulation and limit the oxygen available to the brain and muscles.
Congestive heart failure. This occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations and swollen ankles
Chronic hypotension (low blood pressure). Repeated blood pressure readings below 90/60 mmHg indicate hypotension. Other symptoms include fatigue, dizziness or fainting, rapid, shallow breathing, cold clammy skin, pallor, blurred vision, nausea, excessive thirst, trouble concentrating, and/or depression.
Neurally mediated hypotension. With this type of low blood pressure, people become dizzy only after standing or sitting for a prolonged time, and may feel nauseated if they do not lie down. Possible cause: When the adrenal glands (which secrete stress hormones) do not function well, the resulting hormone imbalance may interfere with the nerves’ signals between the heart and brain, impairing the body’s ability to maintain equilibrium.
HORMONE IMBALANCES – When hormones are out of balance, fatigue is common. If you are diagnosed with a hormone deficiency and hormone therapy is recommended, ask your doctor about bioidentical hormones. Unlike synthetic hormone drugs, bioidentical hormones have the same molecular structure as those produced by the human body. All should be used under a doctor’s guidance.
Adrenal fatigue (AF). In stressful situations, the adrenal glands produce the hormones cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). With AF, this mechanism is overwhelmed by prolonged physical or emotional stress, and these hormones become depleted. Because cortisol and DHEA are vital to energy production, blood sugar control and the anti-inflammatory response, AF can cause unremitting fatigue. Additional symptoms include mood swings, low libido, poor concentration and memory, light-headedness, low back pain, slow recovery from illness, salt and/or sugar cravings, and inability to lose or gain weight despite calorie reduction or increase.
Estrogen and/or progesterone deficiency. A woman’s production of these hormones naturally decreases at menopause but if levels drop too low, she may experience fatigue along with menopausal symptoms, such as severe hot flashes.
Low testosterone. This is common among men, especially those over age 60. Obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk for testosterone deficiency. Symptoms include fatigue, reduced muscle mass, weight gain and joint pain.
Growth hormone deficiency. Symptoms, which usually appear after age 65, include fatigue, reduced muscle mass and strength, loss of skin elasticity and increased abdominal fat.
Hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone deficiency). In addition to fatigue, hypothyroidism patients typically have unexplained weight gain, low body temperature, cold hands and feet, frequent chills, dry skin, constipation, and/or depression.
CLUES TO THE CAUSES OF FATIGUE
To identify and treat the root cause of an individual’s chronic fatigue, doctors must take into account all accompanying symptoms. If you experience fatigue and…
- Mood swings, memory problems and/or low back pain, the cause may be adrenal fatigue.
- A history of root canal problems, the cause may be bacterial infection.
- Chest pain and/or heart palpitations, the cause may be congestive heart failure.
- Yellow skin and/or unexplained weight loss, the cause may be hepatitis.
- Hot flashes, weight gain and/or reduced muscle mass, the cause may be hormone deficiency.
- Dizziness, nausea and/or clammy skin, the cause may be hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure).
- Low body temperature, weight gain and/or dry skin, the cause may be hypothyroidism.
- Flulike symptoms or mononucleosis, the cause may be a viral infection.
- My Ongoing Battle With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (alittlesipoflemmonade.wordpress.com)
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (wholesome.it)
- New Clues to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (news.health.com)
- New Clues to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (nlm.nih.gov)
- What Is Chronic Fatigue – Being aware of Its Nature and Treatments (boldstate.com)
- An adrenal saliva test can measure Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism progress (drbradshook.com)
- Exhausted by Illness, and Doubts (thehandiestone.typepad.com)