- Category: Chronic Fatigue
- Created on Tuesday, 04 January 2011 00:00
- Written by Dr. Susan Tanner, M.D.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a chronic illness that has varied symptoms and is often brought on by a variety of problems, mainly viral infections including Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). The main symptom is debilitating fatigue. It feels like a flu that never heals. Women account for 70% of the cases of chronic fatigue or CFS. The typical profile of a CFS patient is a Caucasian women in her mid 20's to late 40's. CFS usually shows up in a previously active individual who seeks medical treatment after a "flu-like" type illness that does not disappear, or after some type of major stressful event. As the syndrome continues with no relief, most people fall into depression. Over 800,000 Americans suffer from CFS.
Signs and Symptoms
Four or more of the following symptoms must persist or recur during six or more consecutive months and must not predate the fatigue:
- Chronic fatigue.
- Recurring infection.
- Muscle aches and pains.
- Multi-joint pain without redness or swelling.
- Mental confusion.
- Impairment of short term memory.
- Swollen lymph glands.
- Recurrent sore throats.
- Low-grade fever.
- Poor concentration.
- Food/environmental allergies.
- Intestinal problems.
- Breathing irregularities.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Appetite loss.
- Sleep disturbances.
- General malaise after exertion that lasts for more than 24 hours.
Possible Causes or Contributing Factors
- Combined infections including yeast, parasites, bacterial and viral infections are likely culprits in chronic fatigue syndrome. Currently, retroviruses, enteroviruses and lymphotropic herpes viruses are being studied as possible causes of CFS. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is one of the main infectious agents. EBV is a member of the herpes group of viruses. Almost all of us have detectable levels of EBV antibodies in our blood by early adulthood. If the initial EBV infection happens early in life, usually no symptoms occur. If the initial infection happens in adolescence or early adulthood, infectious mononucleosis will likely develop in 50% of the cases.
- Nutrient deficiency.
- Environmental toxins (chemicals, heavy metals, alcohol and drugs).
- Lifestyle choices, stress and poor sleep.
- Food and environmental allergies.
- Reaction to vaccinations.
- Thyroid imbalances (hypothyroidism).
- Breathing problems.
- Genetic factors.
- Impaired detoxification pathways.
- Hypoglycemia and/or hypoadrenia.
- Mercury toxicity from amalgams.
- Weak immune system.
- Autoimmune reaction - the etiology of CFS is unknown, however one theory is an autoimmune reaction to the energy-producing mitochondria.
- Immune complexes - one theory of CFS is that immune complexes deposit in connective tissue and remain active.
- Rule out fibromyalgia, lead or mercury poisoning, sleep apnea, psychiatric problems (severe depression), heart or lung problems, severe infectious or immunologic disorders (hepatitis, lupus, etc.) or endocrine imbalances (diabetes, pituitary problems, chronic renal failure, etc.). These conditions can all cause fatigue.