You hear a name like, “chronic fatigue syndrome,” and you assume it has everything to do with being overly tired all the time. While there’s some truth to this, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is far more complex and nuanced than that simple explanation implies.
To help you better understand what the up to 2.5 million Americans who are living with CFS are dealing with (or to help you identify whether you or a loved one might be affected by CFS), HealthFirst’s Dr. Jonathan Singer brings you the following information.
CFS — a complex syndrome
When we use the term, “syndrome,” it’s to describe a condition with a group of symptoms that occur together. Making matters more complex, the medical term for the condition is myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME/CFS. So, for the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to stick with CFS.
Whatever the name, some of the hallmarks of this condition include:
- Post-exertional malaise
- Difficulty sleeping
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Cognitive issues
- Flu-like symptoms
- Sensitivity to light
- Gastrointestinal issues
We want to circle back to the first symptom on this list — post-exertional malaise — which is really what sets CFS apart from simply being tired. With CFS, any amount of activity, no matter how small, can bring on debilitating fatigue, as well as other symptoms.
On top of the post-exertional malaise, people with CFS often find that sleep isn’t refreshing or rejuvenating, which can be very frustrating.
As you might imagine, having CFS can interfere with your life. Not surprisingly, at least one-quarter of those with CFS are housebound, if not bedbound, at some point.
What we know about CFS
One of the more frustrating aspects of CFS is that there's still much to learn about the condition. This is because CFS involves many areas of your health, including your nervous system, immune system, autonomic function, and energy metabolism.
What we do know is that CFS occurs four times more often in women than men and that there appears to be a genetic component as well as a viral one. For example, certain infections, such as Epstein-Barr and human herpesvirus 6, appear to trigger the condition.
Beyond these connections, there’s still much we need to learn about CFS.
Treating CFS from every angle
Given all of the areas of health that are involved with CFS, it makes sense to take a multipronged approach to the treatment. At our practice, we’ve found success in treating CFS with:
- Intravenous infusions to replenish vitamins, minerals, and other substances
- Hormone balancing
- Massage therapy
Our goal is to find the right combination of treatments that help you get back to living your life.
If you suspect that you or a loved one has CFS and you’d like to learn more, please contact one of our offices in Greenwood Village, Colorado, or Cheyenne, Wyoming, to schedule a consultation.