Do I Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome + How Did I Get It?
Are You wondering ‘Do I Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’?
Well you might wonder, because chronic fatigue syndrome is a misunderstood condition. There is no single test diagnosing this illness making it tricky to identify.
Your doctor will rule out other illnesses first before giving a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating disorder with the main characteristic being unrelenting fatigue not relieved by sleep.
The fatigue can be so severe that it affects your daily activities. Many people have to stop working completely or reduce their work hours to cope with the many accompanying symptoms.
Each persons’ experience of chronic fatigue syndrome is individual. Some people can continue working whilst others are completely bedridden. Many sufferers have to change their lifestyle completely in order to find a way of dealing with their illness. Often an option is to reduce full time work to part time as a way to cope with reduced energy levels.
The feelings of fatigue experienced are not normal tiredness. Rather, it is an overwhelming feeling that you are walking through wet cement. Everyday feels like you are battling with the flu or a virus. However, unlike the flu your body just doesn’t bounce back.
You wake up exhausted and continue through the day exhausted. The exhaustion is complete and unrelenting. The fatigue does not diminish with a full night’s sleep. Poor sleep quality and sleep disturbances are common.
In some cases, chronic fatigue syndrome can appear to go into some form of remission for a while. But it reappears again later, often in an even more serious form as further body systems are affected and begin to falter.
There is no single identifiable cause of the illness. Many other illnesses produce similar symptoms. This makes chronic fatigue syndrome challenging to diagnose. A diagnosis can also take quite some time to come up with. Your doctor arrives at the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome by first eliminating other illnesses.
Chronic fatigue syndrome affects more women than men, and commonly during middle age. However children and teenagers can also have the illness. Because you probably do not look ill, doctors might not recognize that you do in fact have an illness.
Some symptoms that affect people with chronic fatigue syndrome include:
- Debilitating fatigue – this is the main symptom, fatigue that is not improved with rest.
- Brain fog – short term memory issues and difficulty concentrating or focusing on a task.
- Muscle aches and pains – unexplained tightness in muscles, particularly in the neck, shoulders and upper back. Feeling like you have had a good work out.
- Post Exertional Malaise – a lack of stamina and delayed exhaustion from mental or physical activity that can last for several days.
- Unrefreshing sleep – waking up still tired after a full nights’ sleep.
- Swollen lymph nodes in neck and armpits – experiencing swollen glands often.
- Recurring sore throat- often having painful inflamed sore throats.
- Digestive complaints – bloating, indigestion, diarrhea or constipation.
- Fluid retention – generalized fluid retention.
- Sleep problems – difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep.
What Happens When You Ask Your Doctor – ‘ Do I Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’?
First your doctor will review your medical history. Doing lab tests will rule out other possible illnesses. The doctor will review your symptoms to make sure you exhibit a few of those listed above.
Additionally, he will ask about the duration of your fatigue. A diagnosis of chronic fatigue will follow only if you have been experiencing fatigue symptoms for 6 months or more.
Your doctor may also recommend some type of medication to treat your symptoms. There is no known single cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. Due to this, he can only offer help to relieve some of your symptoms. You may be prescribed pain killers to help with muscle and joint pain or anti- depressants.
This is the point you need to realize that there is a limit to the help a medical doctor can give you. I did not ever consider any pharmaceuticals to help me when I had chronic fatigue syndrome.
However, it is important to use natural methods to support your body to enable recovery. Supplements and herbal medication can not only help with symptoms but actually help build your body systems again once testing is carried out to work out what your individual illness is caused by.
How Did I Get It?
By working with a naturopath you can work out how you developed chronic fatigue syndrome. As it is a multi factorial illness you will need the help of a professional.
A naturopath experienced in fatigue issues will help you. You need to peel back all the layers of your symptoms until you get to the root cause(s) of your illness.
This takes time and persistence. You have to uncover what is causing your particular form of chronic fatigue syndrome. Carrying out testing step by step will help you discover what is going on with your body.
15 Possible Causes Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The following list of possible causes is by no means exhaustive. Sometimes one of the causes below will be a ‘sub’ cause. Meaning, the condition of your body systems can deteriorate as your illness progresses. When this happens, more and more ’causes’ for your symptoms appear.
It is like a cascade effect on your total health. One system after another breaks down. Your health declines as your body struggles to work.
This is one of the reasons it can take time to keep digging for the root cause(s). By working to eliminate one cause after another, you finally start reducing symptoms. This leads you to the final reason(s) for your chronic fatigue syndrome.
Remember there may be more than one root cause of your chronic fatigue syndrome.
1. HPA Axis Dysfunction – The HPA axis is a set of interactions between the hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal axis. It contributes to how your body reacts to stress.
Researchers acknowledge a link between dysfunction of the HPA axis and chronic fatigue syndrome. A decrease in the activity of the HPA axis results in hypoactivity of the HPA axis.
This shows up in chronic fatigue sufferers as reduced cortisol production which leads to fatigue.
2. Mitochondrial Dysfunction– ATP (adenosine diphosphate) produced in the mitochondria is the energy currency for functions of the body. ATP turns into the phosphate ADP. This then releases energy to produce different functions in the body. For example, muscle contractions and nerve impulses.
Mitochondrial dysfunction, results in fatigue. A correlation exists between the severity of chronic fatigue syndrome and the degree of mitochondrial dysfunction.
3. Food Sensitivities – When you eat foods that your body is sensitive to, digestion is not complete. This results in a lack of absorbed nutrients which your body badly needs when you lack energy. Your body also uses a great deal of energy trying to process the foods you are sensitive to. Introducing an elimination diet once sensitivities are identified can give your digestion a rest.
4. Gut Issues – If your digestive system is not functioning well, it affects energy production. You are unable to convert food to nutrients. Also, being unable to absorb nutrients perhaps due to a damaged gut will affect energy production. The end result of this is fatigue.
Your gut issues can be leaky gut, dysbiosis (imbalance of the good and bad bacteria), parasite infections and candida overgrowth. It is possible you could have a combination of all four. If this is the case, it can take quite some time to make the necessary changes to your overall gut health.
5. Epstein Barr Virus – A member of the herpesvirus family. Epstein Barr Virus is one of the most common human viruses. All herpes viruses remain in your system forever, generally remaining dormant.
But, in chronic fatigue sufferers, EBV can reactivate if your immune system is not working. In healthy people the immune system produces B and T cells which produce antibodies to knock the EBV out.
However, in chronic fatigue sufferers, the B and T cells are unable to remember EBV. This allows the virus to reactivate, grow and reproduce thereby causing symptoms. Research found this damaged cellular memory in 76 percent of the participants of the study.
6. MTHFR Variations – Gene testing that shows MTHFR variations can lead to the inability to use folate. Due to this, methylation issues arise. If the methylation cycle doesn’t work it affects the immune system.
When the immune system doesn’t work it affects the detoxification system. This then affects the body’s ability to detoxify and repair, fatigue ensues. Learn more about MTHFR variations here
7. Bacterial Infections – Bacterial infections can be a causal factor for chronic fatigue syndrome. They can also be opportunistic and add to an already weakened state.
Coxiella Burnetti is a bacterial infection that causes Q fever. This infection can affect the liver, lungs, heart and other body parts.
8. Immune System Issues – A malfunctioning immune system is unable to shut down its response to a past infection. Researchers found that in chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers, the immune system continued to produce cytokines (chemical messengers) after the infection was over. This is due to the immune system being unable to regulate.
9. Mental Health Issues – Emotional trauma, for example grief and unresolved emotional issues. Also, ongoing mental stress can all trigger chronic fatigue syndrome.
10. Human Herpes Virus, 6 – Affecting AIDS patients and recipients of organ transplants. This virus causes chronic fatigue syndrome.
11. Enterovirus – Causing a range of acute infections enterovirus are usually mild, like a common cold. But enterovirus infections cause chronic fatigue syndrome in certain circumstances.
12. Ross River Virus– Spread by mosquitoes, this virus is a known trigger for chronic fatigue syndrome.
13. Abnormal Hormone Levels– Thyroid hormone levels can be low in chronic fatigue sufferers. Often T3 and T4 levels are lower but the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level is high. Also, reverse T3 and inflammation can be high.
14. Allergies– A sensitive immune system can lead to allergies. Allergies to food, and environmental irritants are common in chronic fatigue sufferers. Irritants in the environment can include mold, pollen, pet dander etc.
The result is hay fever type symptoms of a runny or stuffy nose. Constant sneezing, itchy watery eyes, or a persistent cough are other symptoms.
15. Heavy Metal Toxicity– The build up of heavy metals can accumulate in the body. Mercury, arsenic, lead, aluminium, PFC’s and cadmium all cause stress on organs resulting in fatigue. Heavy metals can also cause damage to the membranes of the mitochondria which in turn affects the energy currency of the cells.
Putting It All Together
If you are asking, ‘Do I have chronic fatigue syndrome and how did I get it’? As you can see, there are many causes that contribute to this illness. Recovery will depend on how severe your symptoms are and how long you have been ill.
It takes persistence and patience to work with your chosen health professional, carry out tests, and work through the many possible causes of the illness. Only once this work is done will you find a way to recover. However, it is important to know that recovery IS possible.
Please leave a comment below or contact me with any queries you might have.