What is Chronic Fatigue
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an illness that you must not take for granted. If it persists for a long time, may lead to serious other health troubles specifically related to your immune system.
In most cases, chronic fatigue is suffered by people who have a hectic schedule, bad lifestyle habits, and even those who are not getting quality sleep. Chronic fatigue is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)
You can experience temporary fatigue, which is a result of too much work or not getting enough rest. This kind of fatigue can be easily overcome with proper rest and sleep.
However, if you are suffering from chronic fatigue, then you will experience extreme tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest. You will feel like lack of motivation and energy can lead to long-term disability in personal, social, educational, or professional activities.
In this article you will find the causes, symptoms and treatments of chronic fatigue syndrome.
What causes chronic fatigue
The definite cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is not yet absolutely understood. A number of factors contribute to its development. Some probable causes include:
Viral infection: Chronic fatigue may develop after some viral infections, like human herpes virus-6, mouse leukaemia virus, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Immune system disorders: Some autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus, scleroderma, and multiple sclerosis can also cause chronic fatigue.
Hormonal imbalances: Hormonal imbalances in the pituitary glands, adrenal glands, or hypothalamus can cause chronic fatigue. Researchers indicate that CFS has its highest impact in females, rather than in males. However, a possible reason for this irregularity is still far to be clarified.
Environmental cause: Poisons and toxins resulting from air, soil and water pollution can also lead to chronic fatigue syndrome.
Nutritional Deficiencies: Numerous reviews reported that nutritional deficiencies could also be the cause of chronic fatigue. These include vitamin C, vitamin B complex, sodium, magnesium, zinc, folic acid, L-carnitine, L-tryptophan, essential fatty acids, and coenzyme Q10.
Other health issues: Certain other health issues like anaemia, intestinal worms, heart problems, low blood sugar, and low blood pressure can cause chronic fatigue syndrome. Mental tension and unresolved emotional problems may also trigger chronic fatigue syndrome.
What are the symptoms of chronic fatigue
Chronic fatigue syndrome last for more than six months in combination with some other typical symptoms that include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Muscle and joint pain without swelling
- Enlarged and painful lymph nodes in the neck or armpits
- Headaches & migraine
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent sore throat
- Poor concentration
- Short term memory problems
- Unrefreshed night sleep
- Severe tiredness after physical or mental activity
The severity of symptoms can be acquired abruptly or gradually.
How diagnosis is done for chronic fatigue
According to Mayo clinic report, there are no specific diagnostic criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome.
The symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are similar to so many other health problems.
So a thorough examination and your previous history of some other sickness are required to rule out those. The diagnostic criteria include:
- Medical problems. Fatigue is a common symptom in several medical conditions, such as anaemia, diabetes and hypothyroidism. Your doctor may ask for blood tests for evidence of some of these top suspects.
- Sleep disorders. A sleep study can determine if your rest is being disturbed by disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome or insomnia.
- Heart and lung impairments. Problems with your heart or lungs can make you feel more fatigued. An exercise stress test can assess your heart and lung function.
- Mental health issues. Fatigue is additionally a symptom of a variety of mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and schizophrenia. A counsellor can help determine if one of these problems is causing your fatigue.
Treatment for chronic fatigue
There is no specified treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome. Symptoms vary from person to person and a wide range of treatments are available for symptom relief. Treating some of the symptoms may give relief to the patients.
However, people with CFS tend to be highly sensitive to chemicals and medications. Any medication or supplement might cause an unwanted side effects. Doctor starts medication with low doses and closely monitors any side effects and applies the lowest possible dose.
Therefore it is a better option to try some natural home remedies and self-helf techniques to get relief from the symptoms.
Natural Home remedy for fatigue and chronic fatigue
Here are some natural home remedies for fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome in various cases.
Fatigue after exercise or hard work
- Drink a cup of fresh orange juice with a pinch of rock salt daily. You can also add juice of half fresh lime to it.
- Tea made with Ginseng or Ashwagandha is helpful for temporary fatigue condition.
Procedure: Boil water in a saucepan. Add Ginseng or Ashwagandha roots to the boiling water close the lid and switch off the flame. Keep it for 10-15 minutes and then strain. Add honey to it and drink.
You can also use commercially available herbal tea with Ginseng or Ashwagandha.
Fatigue due to anaemia
If the fatigue is due to anaemia, take the following recipe once or twice daily.
- A glass of pomegranate juice or grape juice with equal parts of lemon juice is an excellent remedy
- Take one teaspoon of shatavari ghee (shatavari and ghee cooked together) three times a day. You can use the commercially available shatavari root to make the recipe.
- Regular intake of Dates is effective home remedy for both temporary and chronic conditions. Soak five to seven dates in half cup of water overnight. Remove the seeds in the morning and crushed them in the same water and drink. This should be taken at least twice a week.
- Include iron rich foods such as beetroot, carrot, beans, peas, green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals and bread, meat, liver, nuts in your regular diet.
Fatigue due to Epstein-Barr Virus infection
If the fatigue is due to Epstein-Barr Virus, use the following herbal formula
Procedure: Take ½ teaspoon of this mixture two to three times daily with 1 teaspoon shatavari ghee. This will strengthen the liver and help to relief chronic fatigue syndrome.
(Source: The complete book of ayurvedic home remedies by Vasant Lad, piatkus). (4)
Fatigue due to nutritional deficiencies
To maintain an adequate energy supply and promote overall physical well-being, you should eat a balanced diet with nutritional supplements.
Cereal Seeds: Freshly milled cereal seeds such as corn , wheat, rye, maize, barley, and oat seeds contain the essential vitamins and energy booster which relieves fatigue.
B Vitamins: Lack of pantothenic acid, a B-vitamin, in particular, leads to chronic fatigue.
The deficiency of this vitamin is associated with exhaustion of the adrenal glands. A daily dose of 30 mg of pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 is recommended.
However, the entire B complex vitamins should be taken to avoid imbalance of some of the other B vitamins, which nourish and regulate glands.
Foods rich in vitamin B are brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, rice polishing, spinach, chicken, red meat, tuna fish, and salmon fish.
Minerals: Minerals are important for protection against fatigue. Sodium, potassium, calcium, and zinc are beneficial in the treatment of chronic fatigue.
Foods such as celery, cucumber, lettuce, and apples are good sources of sodium, while green leafy vegetables, oranges, potatoes, lentils are rich in potassium.
Milk and milk products, sesame seeds, almonds, oats and walnuts are rich sources of calcium, whilst legumes, wholegrain products and pumpkin seeds contain a sufficient amount of zinc.
Dietary measures: dietary measures are most vital in the treatment of fatigue.
Researches reveal that people who eat snacks between meals suffer less from fatigue. They can think more clearly and are more active than those who eat only three meals daily.
Fresh or dried fruits, vegetable or fruit juices, raw vegetables and a small piece of sandwiches may be beneficial at regular intervals.
(Source: Natural home remedies for Common ailments by H.K. Bakhru) (5)
Self- helf tips for recovery of chronic fatigue
Using some self-helf approach you can fight off chronic fatigue syndrome, even the symptoms are very severe. You can try the following self-help tips for better results.
Set daily routine
A well planned daily routine can help you to reduce chronic fatigue syndrome. It will assist you to gain consistency in activity levels and symptoms and to better manage your energy.
Do exercise and deep relaxation
- Chronic fatigue can be remedied by daily physical exercise, yoga and meditation. Brisk walking, bicycling, gardening, playing tennis or golf is good form of exercise. Massage or alternate hot or cold bath is also beneficial for relieving fatigue. It stimulates the muscles to renew their activity.
- Deep relaxation techniques like breathing exercise, meditation will help you calm the mind and body to release stress and anxiety as well.
Reduce stress and be happy
- Rest should be on a neurological level; means relax your body and mind completely. Often when we sat down for rest our minds are very active, as if a ‘mental video’ is playing in our mind. If we watch distressing thoughts, this can lead to activation of the stress response which negatively impact our body. But if we try to visualize some nice thoughts like our childhood memory, enjoying a wonderful sunset, being in a holiday destination, etc. gives us the pleasure of feeling good. This type of visualization can be an excellent way of reducing your chronic fatigue.
- Spend time doing a lot of leisure activities like watching TV, listening to soft music, doing hobby and doing something that is only for your benefit, not for others will help increase your happiness and satisfaction with life.
- Take time to go out with your family and friends. On the other hand, if you prefer to have a personal time alone without disturbance, find a quiet place where you can relax.
Plan your goal
Many persons constantly feel that they cannot take rest until they finish everything that needs to be done at one time. This gradually leads to chronic fatigue.
Hence set your goals as daily and weekly rather than definite plans. It is also useful to have long-term aims, however, be flexible and persistent in working towards your goals.
Don’t let fatigue overpower you. Chronic fatigue is a serious health issue which could lead to depression, anxiety, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases. So you should start a healthy lifestyle and boost your energy levels as soon as possible before it’s too late.