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Chronic Fatigue - road to recovery?

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating illness that affects more than 35,000 Victorians. It is a complex illness that is not well understood in the mainstream medicine. Patients can often feel frustrated after many testing and visits to the health professionals with no clear answer.

Some of the common symptoms of CFS are:

- Brain fog and impaired cognitive function

- Digestive problems such as bloating, constipation and diarrhoea

- Aches and pain in the muscles and joints

- Sleep disturbances

- Tender lymph nodes

- Urinary problems

- Flu like symptoms

- Feeling fatigued and lethargic

- Inability to exert themselves

- Anxiety and depression

Not everybody presents with all these symptoms.

There are different degrees of CFS where one person may not be able to get out of bed in the morning and others able to go to work. It affects individuals in so many different ways.

This is one of the reasons why it is so important to take the full case history of a patient to establish a clear symptom picture.

Some believe that CFS can be triggered by things like

- Viral infection (such as Epstein-Barr virus)

- Toxic exposure

- Trauma

- Immunisation

- Stress

- Genetic predisposition

As CFS affects the body's energy system, it is safe to assume that there is mitochondrial dysfunctions in the picture of CFS.

Mitochondria is a powerhouse of each cells, producing energy (ATP) for cells to function. Mitochondria also plays roles in cell signalling, cell growth/cycle regulation and metabolism

There are many aspects to CFS but what are some of the simple ways to manage this condition?

1. Stress management – first, having a few stress management techniques can be a life saver. Stress is known to evoke inflammation by releasing epinephrine and norepinephrine which can cause you to feel the pain in the body. Some of the relaxation technique are, deep breathing, meditation and yoga.

2. Nutrition – eat clean, unprocessed whole foods and be mindful of any additive, such as colours, flavours and preservatives. These chemicals can form free radicals and contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction. The research has found that patients with CFS have multiple nutrient deficiencies, therefore it is important to focus on nutrient rich foods.

3. Exercise – exercise is critical part in road to recovery. The key is to build on slowly and move as much as your energy levels allow. This could mean walking upstairs a couple of times a day for someone to walking around the neighborhood for someone else. Exercise should be something you enjoy and could be gentle such as yoga, tai chi and stretching.

Most importantly, whatever stage of CFS you may be at, there are support networks out there that you can get in touch with. You're not alone and you can manage it with support of qualified health professionals.

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