Long periods of fatigue may be a sign of a serious disease, known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The attacks often occur after a viral illness, but the causes of CFS are still unclear.
Causes of fatigue:
Fatigue often develops in the course of a month after suffering a viral infection, and may be an early symptom of some serious diseases (hepatitis, cancer, diabetes, anemia, heart disease, hypoglycemia, obesity, hypothyroidism, mononucleosis, rheumatoid arthritis, myasthenia gravis, alcoholism, sleep disorders).
Chronic fatigue may also be caused by a long-term lack of sunlight (for example, during winter), leading to a shortage of the “happiness hormone” – serotonin.
In most developed countries, a large number of people are complaining of various neurological disorders, therefore many of them are diagnosed with CFS. In the U.S., there are currently up to 5 million of such patients. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease of urbanization, of large cities. It is considered that a certain group of people is predisposed to this disease. Two-thirds of them have a quite high income, with a high education, are very demanding to themselves and are intensely building a career.
In women, the syndrome occurs 2-3 times more often. There is a certain psychological type that is the most commonly affected by CFS: usually that of the successful business woman aged around 35-40 years that puts in a lot of work, investing much force and seeking to do everything perfectly. On the other hand, she is vulnerable and sensitive by nature.
Men exposed to CFS are usually young successful managers working 14-16 hours a day. In the U.S. this is called “the yuppie disease”.
Children also suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. Exact statistics on morbidity among children is not yet provided; however, CFS is more common in children whose parents are affected by this disease or are at risk of developing it. If parents live in stress all the time, this is very often reflected in their children. In such cases, the parents usually have increased demands towards them: the child should become a highbrow, should know many things and be able to apply them. These expectations do not always coincide with the child’s interests and abilities. Of course, this disease is less common in children. For a child it is much more easier in many ways than for an adult, since the child can somehow distance himself from the situation, doesn’t have as many responsibilities towards society and loved ones as an adult.
Typically, chronic fatigue syndrome starts suddenly. In a severe state of hidden fatigue, people come home exhausted from work just to lie down. After some time, the physical and mental activity is restored, but such episodes repeat more often than not. Later, headache, including migraine, dizziness, forgetfulness, and inability to concentrate, start to slowly develop. Some patients stay in a depressed mood; others, on the contrary, become aggressive; some may have episodes of panic. Temperature may increase; pain in muscles and joints may occur; the cervical and axillary lymph nodes may increase in size. Viral infections, including herpes, become a common condition.
Usually, sleep is disturbed. During sleep, the impaired nervous system restores the balance of the internal organs and systems, processing the received information during the day. Without any rest, a man cannot be complete. Thus, disturbed sleep is exacerbating the already difficult situation.
Every hard-working person has to relax. Even if CFS does have a viral nature, any viral disease primarily affects people with a weakened immune system. The immune system, in turn, depends on the status of the nervous system. Therefore, if a person works in the office 12-14 hours a day and besides, drinks at least six cups of coffee, his/her state of health will be highly affected. Sooner or later a failure will appear, and the remaining forces will be spent more on treatment than on work.
CFS is sometimes difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to many other disorders, such as tuberculosis, cancer, or mental pathologies. The criterion for CFS diagnosis is chronic fatigue that lasts for 6 months or more, and 4-8 of the above symptoms. CFS is often accompanied by depression. The physician must indicate all the necessary examinations, in order to exclude the above mentioned pathologies.
In early CFS stages elementary relaxation will help avoid further development of the disease. If the resting time isn’t enough, trance techniques for relaxation can help deal with stress.
If the disease has passed into the chronic stage, one holiday will not be able to solve the existing problem. The treatment of CFS requires a range of measures: healthy lifestyle, active rest with moderate exercise, a balanced diet, getting enough sleep.
Time should be organized properly. If getting up early, a person shouldn’t have to start the day in a hurry and with a sense of fatigue. When life is already full of duties and affairs, a person should know when to ask for help.
At least 30 minutes of exercise per day helps maintain physically activity. Exercise before bedtime is not recommended, because it may disturb sleep and make the organism feel tired in the morning. Getting enough sleep may be one of the most important requisites for a healthy nervous system.
Most people get enough sleep in about 6-8 hours, and if a person has strength and desire to work, then it means he/she has slept enough. Daytime sleep during is also very important, especially to young people with their frenetic pace of life and the elderly who sleep less deep during the night. However, naps should be avoided if they make nigh-time sleep feel incomplete.
Smoking should not be present in a person’s life if one wants to be healthy and full of energy. Smoking disrupts the supply of oxygen in the body, replacing the oxygen with deadly carbon monoxide. If one has been smoking for a long time, giving up this bad habit is not an easy task. But still, one should try at least to reduce the number of smoked cigarettes.
Caffeine and alcohol should be excluded completely from the patient’s everyday habits. Alcohol acts as a depressant, bringing only exhaustion, without helping gain any strength. Caffeine provides a temporary rapid rise in energy followed by acute fatigue.
An appropriate power supply should be always built at work: some people work better after a light snack, while others may only work after a copious meal. Fatty foods should be limited, as fat is processed slower than carbohydrates, and this may lead to a lack of energy.
During the day, small breaks should always be made. A vacation, or at least turning off the phone and relaxing at home, can prevent the onset of the chronic fatigue syndrome.
Watching TV should be limited as much as possible. Active relaxation such as walking or reading is more recommended. One should find a way to become calm by listening to soothing music, say a prayer or a phrase that gives a sense of tranquility. In critical situations, when a person gets depressed and exhausted, imagining the seaside, the mountains or any other place in the world brings power and strength to go on.
Doctors can determine systematic disorders that cause fatigue by examining and prescribing the necessary diagnostic studies.
An effective treatment of CFS does not exist, but the treatment of the symptoms may improve this condition. If doctors considers it necessary, they may prescribe painkillers or antidepressants. Psychologists’ advices may also be needed in some cases.
In addition, the treatment of CFS also includes the normalization of the body’s energy potential, restoring the balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (activation and inhibition processes in the body). For this purpose, herbs that improve the passage of nerve impulses and the nervous system can be used. Also, acupuncture and acupressure activate the bioactive points of the nervous system and can be easily used as a method of physical treatment.
Prevention of fatigue is very important in avoiding many negative conditions. It includes:
In conclusion, people should take care of their health and the health of their children, and should not neglect the multitude of other things that surround them. Otherwise, the so hard-earned money will be all spent on useless treatments. It is easier to prevent than to treat, and chronic fatigue syndrome can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle.