Many of us lead fast-paced lives that leave us exhausted and depleted of energy, which is perfectly normal. Less common are the exhaustion and lack of energy that come with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Distinguishing the difference between the fatigue that comes with everyday life and that which stems from a far more serious problem — chronic fatigue syndrome — can be tricky, which is where our expertise comes in.
At HealthFirst, Dr. Jonathan Singer and our team are well-versed in the many signs of chronic fatigue, which extend far beyond simply feeling tired. Here’s a look.
Who is affected by chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome, which is medically referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), is an incredibly complex illness that’s widely misunderstood.
The CDC reports that anywhere from 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans have ME/CFS. The reason behind the wide range in numbers is that 90% of those with ME/CFS go undiagnosed.
Most people are diagnosed with ME/CFS between the ages of 40 and 60, but it can affect people of all ages. ME/CFS is more common in women and among white people, but these statistics may be influenced by a lack of proper diagnoses among other ethnic and racial groups.
Fatigue and so much more
The primary problem behind ME/CFS is that there’s no single test to determine its presence, and the symptoms are wide-ranging and can often be attributed to other problems.
To help you better understand ME/CFS, let’s first start with the hallmark of the illness — fatigue. As we mentioned, everyone can feel fatigue from time to time. You may even experience weeks or months of seemingly endless exhaustion during particularly busy periods in your life.
The fatigue that stems from ME/CFS, however, is altogether different as it can interfere with your ability to function on even a minimal level. Most people with ME/CFS experience fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest.
The level of this fatigue can be different, but many people find that even walking down the street is too much effort and some are confined to their beds because of the illness. In fact, one in four people with ME/CFS are confined to their beds or houses for long stretches.
These home or bed confinements often come on the heels of either physical or mental exertions that lead to post-exertional malaise (PEM). During PEM, extreme fatigue may be accompanied by:
- Cognitive difficulties
- Sleep issues
- Sore throat
These symptoms can last for days, weeks, or even months.
Other symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome
Outside of the symptoms that come with PEM, chronic fatigue syndrome can also come with:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Digestive issues
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Chills and sweats
It’s important to note that ME/CFS affects people in different ways and to different degrees, which makes seeking our help key.
Since there’s no identifiable cause for ME/CFS, there’s no single cure. That said, we’ve had great success restoring quality of life through nutritional replenishment, detoxification, hormone balancing, and lifestyle changes.
If you’d like to learn more about chronic fatigue syndrome and how to treat it, contact one of our two locations in Greenwood Village, Colorado, or Cheyenne, Wyoming, by phone or online to set up an appointment today.