In March of each new year, time is set aside by organizers to engage in activities and events that help to raise awareness of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which is a disorder that causes extreme fatigue for a period generally lasting six months or longer. Throughout the entire time, it seems as though any kind of mental or physical activity triggers another bout of exhaustion, but even when the victim rests, it seems like recovery is elusive. Even worse, diagnosing the disorder can be very difficult, and it’s often necessary to use several tests to confirm the presence of CFS. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most important facts for seniors to remember about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
There is no uniform test that can be used to confirm a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Diagnosis is made especially difficult because symptoms of the disorder will frequently appear the same as those from a number of other health issues, for instance, Sleep Disorders, mental health problems, and a number of other medical issues such as diabetes, underactive thyroid, or anemia. In addition, diagnosis is made even more difficult because people afflicted with CFS will often have other health issues concurrently, for instance, fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome.
In many cases, there are so many similar symptoms between fibromyalgia and CFS that a number of scientists and researchers have come to the conclusion that these two disorders are actually different aspects of some similar disease. That has made it necessary to include some guidelines in the diagnosis, so as to uniquely identify the disorder. The first of these guidelines stipulate that the condition must be so severe that it inhibits a person’s ability to be involved with their normal daily activities. That it has to be a new or developing condition.
Furthermore, the symptoms associated with the suspected CFS disorder must not be significantly mitigated by rest, meaning that they persist regardless of whether the patient is fully rested or not. The last criterion for CFS calls for the condition to be worsened whenever the patient engages in physical, emotional, or mental exertion. To be confident in diagnosing CFS, a patient should also exhibit one of two critical symptoms, difficulty with concentration and memory, and dizziness or disorientation that worsens with any kind of movement. To further confirm the diagnosis of CFS, all the symptoms mentioned above must persist for at least six months and must be characterized as being either moderate or severe in intensity.
Treatment of CFS
There is no known cure for the disorder known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Whenever a treatment program is initiated, it will generally focus on relieving the symptoms associated with the disorder. Those symptoms that are the most disabling or disruptive in a person’s lifestyle are generally the symptoms that are treated first. The first approach to treating CFS will generally involve administering some type of medication, and the specific type of medication selected will be dependent on which symptoms are being addressed:
- depression – whenever an individual develops a long-term ailment such as CFS, it increases the likelihood that they will become depressed. By treating depression symptoms, it can be much easier for a patient to manage the specific problems associated with CFS. Low dosages of antidepressants can be beneficial in relieving pain and improving sleep for an afflicted person.
- orthostatic intolerance – quite a few people bothered by CFS, especially those of adolescent age, tend to feel nauseous or faint when they sit upright. In cases like this, a medication that helps to regulate heart rhythms and blood pressure can be quite useful.
- pain treatment – generally speaking, the initial efforts at pain relief will be using over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen. If this doesn’t alleviate symptoms sufficiently, prescription drugs used to treat fibromyalgia may be an option, for instance using pregabalin, duloxetine, amitriptyline, or gabapentin.
Handling post-exertional malaise
Post-exertional malaise is the fatigue situation that occurs directly after any kind of emotional, mental, or physical effort on the part of the CFS patient. It will generally start within 12 hours of the specific activity, and the feeling of malaise can continue for several days or even weeks. It’s sometimes very difficult for CFS patients to find a good balance between activity and rest, but this can be very important to strive for. By keeping a diary of active times and the subsequent CFS consequences, it can be possible to remain active without triggering the malaise symptoms.
This is sometimes referred to as pacing, and the goal of pacing is to lessen the symptoms of post-exertional malaise. If the patient becomes good at recognizing triggers and consequences, it might then be possible to engage in additional activities safely without triggering post-exertional malaise. If you’re having sleeping problems while dealing with CFS, it might be necessary to alter your bedtime routine, or limit your intake of caffeine throughout the day, so that you can sleep easier at night.