Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is characterized by severe, debilitating fatigue and muscle pain, was once considered to be a condition that most commonly affected Caucasians in their 30s and 40s, is now recognized as an illness that can affect men and women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, although the National Institutes of Health (NIH) still maintains that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome predominantly affects white, middle-class people, more than two-thirds of whom are women. It is estimated that 3 million Americans suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and as many as 90 million people worldwide.

Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Compounding the difficulties in treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is the fact that no standard medical tests exist to detect it. This leads to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome often being undiagnosed or mistaken as other health conditions. Adding further to the problem is that other types of fatigue syndrome can also be mistaken for chronic fatigue syndrome. These include fatigue that is caused by diminished adrenal gland function, allergies (both food and environmental), anemia, candidiasis, chronic ill health, depression, diabetes, headaches, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, infections, nutritional imbalances, obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), sleep problems, and toxicity in the body's various organs.

To properly screen for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, holistic health practitioners employ a detailed medical history and physical examination, along with laboratory tests for various infection agents, especially viruses. Hormone tests can also be used, especially to test cortisol levels, which tend to be chronically low in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients and to further decline after physical activity and exercise, unlike in healthy people. Monitoring brain circulation after exercise and physical activity is another test health care practitioners use, because brain circulation diminishes in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients following such activities, again unlike what occurs when healthy people are physically active.

Crimson Crescents: Thanks to a discovery by Burke A. Cunha, M.D., Chief of the Infectious Disease Division of Winthrop-University Hospital, in Mineola, New York, health care practitioners now know that arch-shaped, bright red marks in the back of the mouth, shaped in the form of what Dr. Cunha calls "crimson crescents," can be a strong indicator of chronic fatigue syndrome. Usually the markings occur near the back molars, and they tend to deepen in color as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome becomes more severe. According to Dr. Cunha, the crescents are present in a high percentage of all Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients, only appearing in less than five percent of non-Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients with sore throats, and not at all in cases of mononucleosis or strep throat. For this reason, Dr. Cunha and other regard the red markings as a tell-tale sign of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

An Immunological Test for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: An immunological test developed by Jay Levy, M.D., of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the University of California at San Francisco, can also help health care practitioners determine if their patients suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as opposed to conditions with similar symptoms, including lupus, depression, acute viral illnesses, depression, lupus, and prolonged fatigue that doesn't match other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome criteria.

Although the test is incapable of making a definitive diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, according to Dr. Levy, it can serve as a useful tool to identify patients who most likely have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so that they can then receive additional tests. When conducting the test, physicians examine whether or not their patients' immune system are in a constant state of over-activity of the immune system's CD8 cells, with a corresponding reduction in the activity of CD8 suppressor cells. According to Dr. Levy, this is a sign of chronic fatigue syndrome 90 percent of the time.

Other Tests for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Holistic health practitioners employ a variety of other tests to screen for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. These include darkfield microscopy and electrodermal screening (EDS), both of which are typically not used by conventional doctors. Darkfield microscopy involves the use of a darkfield microscope. Unlike traditional microscopes, a darkfield microscope is specially adapted to be able to examine live blood cells that are then magnified onto a video screen. This allows physicians trained in this diagnostic technique to detect evidence of illness via distortions in the walls of the blood cells, and to spot harmful microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses in the bloodstream, where they do not belong. Such microorganisms are commonly found in the bloodstream of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients.

Electrodermal screening (EDS) is a noninvasive diagnostic technique that measures the electrical output of specific points on the hands, face, or feet that correlate to acupuncture meridian points at the beginning or end of energy meridians. The electrical signals given off at these points provide information about the health status of the body's organs and organ systems, and can also be used to detect the presence of toxins, energy and hormonal imbalances, and harmful microorganisms. In the hands of a highly skilled EDS practitioner, EDS can often detect evidence of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, even when other sophisticated testing methods fail to do so because of the fact that both health and disease are first and foremost the results of balanced or imbalanced energy.

Other tests that can be used to screen for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include digestive function tests, stool and urine analyses, immune system tests (T and B Cell Panel, NK Cell Function, Sedimentation Rate), thyroid function tests, tests that screen for nutritional deficiencies or toxins, and stress tests.

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The most common symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome is a constant state of pronounced fatigue that does not improve with rest or sleep, and which is made worse by even minor activity. This is usually accompanied by muscle or joint pain, and muscle weakness. Additional symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can include allergic reactions, anxiety attacks, breathing problems, depression, digestion problems, dizziness, headache, heightened sensitivity to cold and heat as well as light and sound, irregular heartbeat, low grade fever, memory problems, night sweats, rash, recurring infections, and swollen lymph glands.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for a person to be diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, he or she must exhibit new, unexplained, and persistent fatigue that is not due to physical activity, does not improve with rest or sleep, and significantly reduces his or her normal daily activities. In addition, he or she must also exhibit four or more of the following symptoms for a minimum of six months: concentration and memory problems, fatigue after physical activity that lasts 24 hours or more, headache, muscle pain, multiple joint pain, sore throat, and/or swollen or tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpits.

The severity of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms can fluctuate from day to day or from week to week. In addition, symptoms can be intermittent, with the person feeling reasonably healthy for a short period between lapses of extreme fatigue.

Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There is no single cause for chronic fatigue syndrome. Holistic health practitioners believe that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have multiple causes that can be interrelated, such as more than one viral infection acting together to depress immune function. Bacterial infections, fungal and yeast overgrowth, such as candidiasis and parasites can also be factors in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as can various other factors. The most common factors include addictions to alcohol, drugs, and/or smoking; chemical and environmental toxin exposure or overload; chronic low-grade hyperventilation and/or muscle tension; poor diet and nutritional imbalances; lifestyle factors, such as lack of exercise and sleep; hereditary factors; and hormonal dysfunctions, particularly of the adrenal and/or thyroid glands. Therefore, to seek out a single cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is the typical approach taken by conventional physicians is misguided. Among the most significant and often overlooked causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are:

Dental Factors: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can often be caused and exacerbated by mercury amalgam fillings in the teeth, which can result in mercury being leeched from the fillings in the form of vapors that then settle in and negatively impact various organs in the body. The end result is mercury poisoning. Common symptoms of mercury poisoning from dental amalgams include anxiety, confusion, depression, difficulties in concentrating, and irritability, all of which are also associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Lyme Disease: Lyme disease, which is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a highly infectious microorganism known as a spirochete, can cause many debilitating health symptoms, including chronic fatigue. Although commonly thought to initially manifest as a "bull's eye" shaped skin rash, more than 50 percent of people who are infected by Lyme disease never exhibit such a rash, and therefore may not realize that they are suffering from the disease.

Symptoms of Lyme disease range from skin lesions or rashes, flu-like symptoms, sleeping problems, muscle pains and weakness, to headaches, back pain, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, facial paralysis, and enlarged lymph glands or spleen. Other symptoms including heart arrhythmia, seizures, blurry vision, mood swings, memory loss, dementia, and joint pains and inflammation. Another common symptom is ongoing fatigue that is not relieved by rest. All of these symptoms are also common to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Therefore, it is quite common for both conditions to be mistaken for each other, making accurate diagnosis of either condition more problematic. If, after undergoing a comprehensive treatment plan for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you still have not found relief of your symptoms, the possibility that you have Lyme disease should be seriously considered.

Pharmaceutical Drug Use: According to the Physicians' Desk Reference, the following drugs can cause symptoms that are common to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Accutane Capsules, Actimmune, Anafranil Capsules, Aredia for Injection, Cardura Tablets, Cartrol Tablets, Centrax Capsules, Cordarone Tablets, Dantrium Capsules, Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection, Epogen for Injection, Fludara for Injection, Foscavir Injection, Hylorel Tablets, Hytrin Tablets, Intron A, Lariam Tablets, Leucovorin Calcium for Injection, Lopressor, Lozol Tablets, Marplan Tablets, Mesnex Injection, NebuPent for Inhalation Solution, Neupogen for Injection, Nipent for Injection, Normodyne, Norpace Capsules, Parlodel,, Procardia XL Extended Release Tablets, Procrit for Injection, Proleukin for Injection, Prozac, Roferon-A Injection, Sectral Capsules, Seldane Tablets, Supprelin Injection, Tambocor Tablets, Tegison Capsules, Tenex Tablets, Tenoretic Tablets, Tenormin Tablets and I.V. Injection, Toprol XL Tablets, Trandate Injection, Valrelease Capsules, Wellbutrin, Xanax, and Zoloft.

Psychological Factors: Unresolved emotions, such as anxiety, depression, fear, and sorrow, as well as prolonged stress, can also play a role in chronic fatigue syndrome. Such psychological factors diminish immune function, making it easier for invading microorganisms to take hold in the body and cause fatigue. In addition, having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can cause a spiral of negative emotions because of how Chronic Fatigue Syndrome interferes with people's abilities to engage in normal daily activities due to lack of energy. This can set a vicious cycle in motion where Chronic Fatigue Syndrome causing immune-lowering emotions which in turn increase levels of fatigue. Helping Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients cope with such unresolved emotions and stress is an important aspect of a comprehensive treatment program for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Thyroid Imbalances: A significant and often undiagnosed cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is an under-active thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland is part of your body's endocrine system, and it plays an important role in regulating your body's cells, organs, and tissues, including keeping them supplied with sufficient energy. Proper thyroid function is also essential for a healthy immune system, as well as for many other functions performed by your body. When thyroid function becomes imbalanced, it can potentially affect the health of every part of your body, resulting in a progressive increase in fatigue, as well as many of the other symptoms common to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Supplementing with natural thyroid hormones and improving the diet can usually quickly and safely alleviate this problem. Unfortunately, this is a frequently overlooked issue and conventional physicians may not take the time to assess their patient's thyroid health, and even when they do, they often rely on blood tests that fail to accurately determine the true status of thyroid activity.

To determine if your thyroid is under-active, you can perform this simple home test. Before you go to bed, set out a thermometer beside your bed. When you awake the next morning, before you get out of bed or engage in any activity, place the thermometer under your left armpit for ten minutes, and then note your body's temperature. Do this four consecutive days. If your body temperature is consistently below 97.8 degrees Fahrenheit during this time, it is a strong indicator that you suffer from hypothyroidism. Electrodermal testing, Live blood cell testing as well as some of the newer blood and urine tests now available can be utilized to confirm the temperature testing if this is a strong indicator.

Viral and Other Infections: Though no single virus or other pathogen is known to be the sole cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, there is no question that viral overload and/or infections from other microorganisms plays a central role in its development. Among the most frequent viruses found in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients are the herpes family of viruses, which, in addition to the oral and genital herpes strains, also includes human herpes virus-6 (HHV6) and the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV); cytomegalovirus (CMV); retroviruses, including HIV; and the enteroviruses, such as Coxsackie.

Other infectious microorganisms commonly associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include fungi, especially Candida albicans, the fungal yeast that causes candidiasis, parasitic infections, and bacterial infections, such Lyme disease and bacteria that spread throughout the body due to abscesses in the jaw or teeth, and from chronic conditions such as gastritis, prostatitis, and sinusitis.

The key to effectively dealing with such infections lies is improving overall immune function, which is a central element of the comprehensive Chronic Fatigue Syndrome treatments employed by holistic physicians.