Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome at the same time I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It had already changed my life, I just had a name for it then. That was 2002. Come to find out, you can’t really have fibromyalgia without chronic fatigue syndrome. Also called: CFS, ME/CFS, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, SEID, Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest.

The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, nor is there one single test for diagnosis. It is theorized that it is brought on from things such as psychological stress to viral infections.

One with this/these illnesses are not lazy. They are physically weak, having pain and brain fog. Brain fog is a condition where the brain does not function properly, it is what it sounds like, a foggy brain, you know what is going on around you, but you can’t interact in your normal capacity, you are hindered, easily confused, have difficulty concentrating and failed memory. It is not a permanent condition, but comes and goes and is very debilitating.

Put any chronic illness, especially chronic fatigue with brain fog and you are a living zombie. You experience pain, extreme fatigue, weakness, joint pain, sleep disturbances and headaches. It is not an easy thing to live with.

Anyone can get chronic fatigue, it does not discriminate.

Chronic fatigue syndrome has eight official signs and symptoms, plus the central symptom that gives the condition its name:

Fatigue
Loss of memory or concentration
Sore throat
Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
Unexplained muscle pain
Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
Unrefreshing sleep
Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise

What causes CFIDS/ME?

Evidence from scientific studies proves that several viruses have been shown to be reactivated from time to time including Epstein-Barr Virus and HHV6-A (strain gs) but they are not the cause. Parainfluenza Virus-5 has been shown to play a primary role in CFIDS/ME as well as in multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. A mutation of the virus can cause a slightly different disease. The virus was first isolated in swine but found in CFIDS/ME, MS and epilepsy by Dr. Steven Robbins.  Reactivated viruses can play a role but are not causative.

Personally, I have Epstein-Barr Virus. It is also known as the kissing disease or mononucleosis. I am a carrier and the symptoms come and go. Nearly everyone has had, or will have this virus at some point in their lifetime, but not everyone will develop chronic fatigue from it due to their immune systems being healthy. Mine has never been healthy.

There is significant controversy and debate in the medical literature about the relationship between myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The first outbreak of myalgic encephalomyelitis was in 1934 and the term myalgic encephalomyelitis first appeared in the medical literature in 1956. Myalgic encephalomyelitis is recognized as a distinct disorder and has been classified as a specific neurological disorder by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1969. The term CFS was first used in the medical literature during the 1980s in the United States. The criteria focused more on fatigue than the encephalitic (inflammation of the brain) features of the disorder.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis has a wide variety of symptoms including:

an inability to produce sufficient energy to meet daily demands
marked fatigue and weakness
sickness
cognitive dysfunction
symptom flare-up follows physical and cognitive exertion

Additional symptoms that may occur include:

headaches
pain
muscle weakness
neck pain
vision abnormalities (such as blurred vision)
a sensation of tingling
burning or numbness of the extremities (paresthesia)
bladder and bowel dysfunction
sleep dysfunction
cardiovascular abnormalities have also been reported

The Institute of Medicine has recommended a change in the name and criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), renaming the illness Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID). The new SEID case definition requires substantial reductions or impairments in the ability to engage in pre-illness activities, unrefreshing sleep, post-exertional malaise (a period of intense exhaustion and a spike in other symptoms that lasts for more than 24 hours following physical exertion), and either cognitive impairment or orthostatic intolerance (the development of symptoms when standing upright which are relieved when reclining. There are many types of orthostatic intolerance. OI can be a subcategory of dysautonomia, a disorder of the autonomic nervous system occurring when an individual stands up).

As of now, my research shows a lap-over of these three terms for chronic fatigue syndrome, though I find that myalgic encephalomyelitis carries more symptoms than chronic fatigue. Trying to distinguish between them most definitely requires a doctor. Always seek a doctor’s advice.

~ Peace

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