Picture yourself having the flu or a bad cold that does not go away but hangs on day after day. This is how many persons who have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) feel on a daily basis. It is not uncommon to wake up with a headache and go to bed with a headache. Other symptoms include lightheadedness, extreme weakness, acute joint and body aches/pain, unable to concentrate, memory problems, vision problems, sore throat and other disturbances.
Symptoms vary from patient to patient. While some persons might feel fatigued but are able to continue working, others become disabled, unable to work due to the disabling symptoms. Still others need assistance to get up or end up in a wheelchair. Contrary to what many people believe, chronic fatigue syndrome is a real illness.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Conventional Doctors
Since the onset of the condition, I sought medical help because the headaches were so severe that I could not drive or do anything without taking over-the-counter pain medicine. Even after taking the medicine, the pain would subside but would never go away completely. After about four hours, the effect of the medication would wear off, and I would have to either take more medicine or go to bed. This went on for one year and a half.
During that time, I was going from doctor to doctor without any results. My husband even took me to eye specialists and neurologists, thinking that I had a brain tumor. The only prescription they would give me was for depression, which I refused to take. While depression is often a symptom of CFS, I did not feel that I met the criteria for clinical depression. Clinical depression patients lack the motivation and desire to engage in daily activities - that was not my case. Depression medication is necessary, depending on the patient’s needs. However, in my case, I did not feel that depression was the reason for my symptoms.
Although not athletic, I was very active before I started experiencing fatigue symptoms. I felt that my depression stemmed from not finding answers to my symptoms. I would get up in the morning with the intention of having a productive day, only to go back to bed after taking a shower because I would feel so weak and exhausted.
My CFS Symptoms & Alternative Medicine
At the urging of some family friends, my husband and I decided to consult an alternative medicine practitioner/holistic doctor, who diagnosed my symptoms as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia (muscle pain). It was a relief to find a reason for my symptoms. The holistic doctor recommended a whole foods diet, magnesium, vitamins and various supplements to detoxify the blood as well as the entire system. I was supposed to eliminate sugar, simple carbohydrates, preservatives and processed foods.
Without exaggeration, after two weeks of following the doctor’s recommendations, I experienced an increased energy level and was able to start walking regularly.
How I Manage My Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Since my CFS diagnosis 17 years ago, I have had a few relapses. Although I still have some limitations and have to pace myself, I have a productive life. The recommendations that helped me 17 years ago still help me today. I try to stay away from chemicals and sugar as much as possible. Walking and drinking enough water helps relieve muscle pain and restless leg syndrome.
I take magnesium supplements and multivitamins. Green vegetables powder supplements also oxygenate and alkalize the blood, as well as detoxify the body. Other supplements I take off and on are CoQ10, lecithin and antioxidants as well as flaxseed oil.
I have noticed that my symptoms worsen after a stressful event. I try to be positive as much as possible and deal constructively with stressful situations. Although not always easy, I try not to worry about things that are beyond my control.
Causes of Chronic Fatigue
Researchers have not found a concrete cause for chronic fatigue syndrome. Some theories regarding the cause for CFS include viruses, mineral/vitamin deficiencies, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, adrenal disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic illnes and prolonged stress. Environmental toxins are also among the possible culprits of CFS. Some researchers even link chronic fatigue syndrome with post-polio syndrome.
However, there is one thing about which researchers generally agree. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a multi-system illness. CFS patients show abnormalities in endocrine, immune, neurological and other systems in the body. Brain scans of chronic fatigue patients generally reveal lesions and a decreased blood flow to the midbrain and the cerebrum.
According to information posted on ImmuneSupport.com, the symptoms that those with CFS experience are similar to a brain concussion. Additionally, according to the same site, chronic fatigue lowers a person’s functional level more than if the person was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer or suffered from multiple sclerosis or heart disease.
Although I still have to struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia symptoms, I feel fortunate that I have found a way to manage the condition and have a productive life. I have a supportive husband and friends that undertand. If you have a friend or loved one who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, learn as much as you can about the condition. Above all, provide emotional support, as emotional support is often what a person needs to cope successfully with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Copyright © 2011 Ana Jackson. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part constitutes plagiarism, is illegal and strictly prohibited.