Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a debilitating condition that affects up to 2% of the population.
Criteria for diagnosis
Before being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue other medical causes of fatigue must be excluded and you must have;
Persistent or relapsing fatigue of new onset (i.e. not lifelong) for six or more consecutive months
Plus, four more of the following symptoms concurrently present for over 6 months:
- Impaired memory or concentration
- Sore throat
- Tender cervical (neck) or axillary (armpit) lymph nodes
- Muscle pain
- Multi-joint pain
- New headaches
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Post-exertion malaise
Typical symptoms for a Chronic Fatigue sufferer include:
- Fatigue, especially after exertion
- Poor concentration
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
- Feeling faint
- Problems with balance
- Mild fever
- Sore throat
- Painful, swollen glands in the neck or armpits
- Muscle weakness
- Joint swelling and pain
Possible underlying causes
The cause or causes of CFS remain unknown, despite many years of research. While a single cause for CFS may yet be identified, another possibility is that CFS represents a common endpoint of disease resulting from a multitude of different causes. A list of possible contributing factors is discussed below
Nutrient deficiency – Certain nutrients are essential for ensuring that the energy production process in the body runs properly. These include the B-vitamins and the mineral magnesium. Unfortunately these are the nutrients that most often lacking in our modern processed diets! Other nutritional deficiencies which have been found in people with CFS include: Coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, L-tryptophan, Folic Acid, and Zinc. Luckily low nutrient status can be identified using a combination of simple blood tests. If you wanted to discuss which tests might be right for you then please do give Smart Nutrition a call.
Infectious agents – Due in part to its similarity to acute or chronic infections, some cases of CFS are thought to be initiated by a virus or other infectious agent. Recently published research suggests that infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Ross River virus and Coxiella burnetti can lead to a post-infective condition that meets the criteria for CFS. EBV and related viruses produce lifelong latent infections which the person’s immune system normally keeps in check. However, a compromise in a person’s immune system can lead to reactivation of the virus and recurrent or chronic infection. an EBV is a blood tests for past, present, and re-activated EBV infections. Please get in touch and we can try and source this for you as at the time of writing we had to stop this test.
Immune dysfunction – It has been proposed that chronic fatigue syndrome may be caused by an immunologic dysfunction, for example inappropriate production of inflammatory chemicals by immune cells or altered capacity of certain immune functions. One hypothesis is that this may be triggered by an outside situation, such as stress or a viral infection. If you feel that immune dysfunction may be a factor in your condition you may like to consider Booking a Consultation with Smart Nutrition. Through a long term programme of diet, lifestyle and supplements they will be able to assist you in rebuilding and re-educating your immune system, for sustained wellness.
An abnormality in the energy production cycle – The body’s energy is generated by a cycle of special chemical reactions that occur within every cell in the body resulting in the production of ATP – energy. The energy factories of the cells called the Mitochondria sometimes are not functioning properly in people with Chronic Fatigue. This can be for a variety of reasons one of them being a lack of certain minerals.
Adrenal hormone imbalance – The central nervous system may have an important role in chronic fatigue syndrome. Physical or emotional stress, which is commonly reported as a pre-onset condition in CFS patients, activates a chain of events that result in release of stress hormones, such as cortisol from the adrenal glands. These hormones influence the immune system and many other body systems. If this system is continually used over a long period of time, for example during chronic stress, the adrenal glands can “burn out”. This means they can no longer sustain production of normal levels of cortisol and other hormones. Recent studies revealed that chronic fatigue syndrome patients often produce lower levels of cortisol than do healthy controls. Cortisol suppresses inflammation and cellular immune activation, so reduced levels can lead to inflammatory processes and immune dysfunction. Imbalances in cortisol levels can be measured via The Adrenal Stress Test.
Low thyroid function – Fatigue is also a very common symptom of hypothyroidism – an under active thyroid. The thyroid gland controls the body’s metabolism so it has a huge influence on how energised we feel. Hypothyroidism also slows down many of the body’s other systems. This can result in constipation, cold hands and feet, weight gain and depression. If you think hypothyroidism may be a factor in your condition you might want to consider A Thyroid Test.
Detoxification problems – CFS sufferers are often what is called pathological detoxifiers. This means their liver is able to very effectively chop up toxic chemicals, but that it has much lesser ability to package them up so they can be removed from the body. This build up of waste products and toxins can lead to fatigue.
Oxidative Stress – Oxidative stress is caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. These are highly reactive species which can damage the energy-producing mechanisms inside the body’s cells, leading to fatigue. Free radicals occur all over the place. Some are made in the body and others come from our environment e.g. pollution. Normally the body has very good mechanisms for mopping them up before they do us any damage, but if we are constantly exposed to high levels our body’s defence mechanism can become over whelmed. If you are concerned about you exposure to free radicals you might want to consider An Oxidative Stress Test.
Heavy metal toxicity – Exposures to heavy metal toxins can impair energy production and burden the detoxification system, leading the way for the development of chronic fatigue. Unfortunately toxic metals are rife in the modern environment, occurring in everything from pollution, pesticides and mercury fillings, to tap water. If you think heavy metals are playing a role in your symptoms you can get your levels checked by having A Hair Mineral Analysis Test
Food allergies or Intolerance – Fatigue is a common symptom of food intolerance, especially for people with an intolerance to grains, such as wheat. If your fatigue is accompanied by digestive symptoms, or you suspect a food sensitivity you should consider having A Food Allergy or Intolerance Test. If you find out you do have an issue with a particular food Smart Nutrition could help you to change your diet and find tasty alternatives.
Candida infection – A Candida infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of the pathogenic yeast Candida Albicans in the gut. This can be caused by poor dietary habits, compromised levels of friendly bacteria in the gut and poor immunity. Some cases of chronic fatigue are exacerbated by intestinal overgrowth of Candida yeast and the toxins the yeast produces. In addition to the typical CFS symptoms, Candida sufferers often also have digestive disturbance, sweet cravings and difficulty losing weight. If you think you may have a Candida infection it is best to have it confirmed by via a simple Candida Saliva Test.
Leaky gut syndrome – This is also known as intestinal permeability. A normal healthy digestive lining allows certain molecules to pass across into the bloodstream such as vitamins, minerals and digested foods. It also acts as a barrier to prevent entry of larger damaging molecules, foreign particles and bacteria. Chronic intestinal irritants, parasites and Candida overgrowth can all damage the gut lining allowing toxins to pass from the gut into the blood stream, triggering inflammation and fatigue. A Leaky Gut Test is a simple and easy way to identify this condition, which can then be addressed with the help of Smart Nutrition
Digestive dysfunction – Fatigue may be triggered by malabsorption of important nutrients caused by poor digestive function or by an the overgrowth of intestinal yeasts, bacteria, or parasites. A Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis and Parasitology (CDSAP) is a full screen for gut flora balance, parasites and digestive function.This make’s it an excellent comprehensive screen for those who feel a digestive imbalance is the key driver in their condition.