Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating disorder that is characterized by a condition of extreme exhaustion and fatigue that lasts for extended periods of time – usually six months or more. Doctors have yet to uncover what exactly causes this disorder but it is widely believed that a number of factors trigger its onset. These factors include stress, viral infections, hormone levels and lack of adequate sleep.
Poor diet and lack of exercise are also considered as factors that strongly contribute to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. Because there is no known exact cause of CFS, doctors find it difficult to diagnose if a patient is indeed suffering from CFS or if the symptoms are actually of another ailment.
The NIAMS (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) says that in order for a patient to be diagnosed with CFS, he must be suffering from severe chronic fatigue for six months or beyond and at the same time, should have four or more of the following symptoms: impaired short term memory, prolonged feeling of extreme exhaustion, muscle pains, swelling and tenderness of multiple joints and the lymph nodes, recurring sore throat, severe headache and un-refreshing sleep.
Since the exact cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is yet to be determined, there is no known cure for it at present. Treatments for CFS are meant to relieve the symptoms and improve the patient’s bodily functions. Doctors recommend a combination of medications and non-drug therapies. Dietary restrictions and nutritional supplements are also used to help suppress the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. In addition to therapy, lifestyle changes are also highly recommended.
Although it might seem contradictory, regular exercise is also a good way to help treat chronic fatigue syndrome. However, doctors should carefully supervise any physical activity that the patient does to avoid aggravating the symptoms. Mild exercise for 10-15 minutes followed by 30 minutes of rigorous physical activities such as tennis, swimming, brisk walking and others. Such activities help make the heart stronger and healthier to promote better circulation.
Aside from these, individuals afflicted with chronic fatigue syndrome can also do stretching and other relaxation exercises to help manage stress. A doctor should approve any exercise routine to avoid injury or worsening of the CFS symptoms.
Many doctors also recommend herbal remedies because they are natural and effective. There are a number of herbal medicines that CFS victims can take. Echinacea root is known for its ability to boost the immune system. Since viral infection is one of the factors that trigger chronic fatigue syndrome, using Echinacea strengthens the immune system to fight of viruses and eliminate their harmful effects.
Ginseng root, long used in the orient as a herb to restore vitality and energy, can be taken in capsule or tablet form to help keep the body active and strong. Licorice is primarily known for its ability to purge toxins from the body and can help keep the immune system resistant to attacks by viruses.
Aside from herbal medications, just living a healthy life and having a balanced, healthy diet can help the individual overcome the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Fruits and vegetables provide the body with the important vitamins and minerals to keep the immune system strong.