Understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome : Dr. Kim's Blog

Understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) has not been recognized in the medical community for long.  In fact, it first became a noted in the 1990’s, and received it’s official medical status in the 2000’s.  

For a diagnosis of CFS to be given, the patient’s symptoms must include fatigue or lethargy, and this must have been causing a 50 percent loss of physical and social function, for at least six months.

 In addition, four of the following symptoms must also be present:

Physical: sore throat, persistent infections, swollen and/or sore lymph nodes, headaches, and pain in muscles or joints.

Psychological depression: impaired memory or concentration, excessive sleep requirement, appetite loss or gain, and agitation.

Unfortunately, a considerable percentage of doctors doubt CFS has a physiological cause and consider it a psychological issue. That said, stressful events, be they physical or psychological (such as professional, personal or social issues), may lead to CFS. Mainstream, conventional medicine regularly treats CFS with cognitive behavioral therapy and anti-depressants.  

Here are some interesting facts about CFS:

• CFS can occur with no previous or obvious illness preceding it, although a majority of cases seem to follow an infection. CFS has been reported in association with dormant or persistent viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus or herpes.

• Poisoning from environmental chemicals such as heavy metals, pesticides and other organophosphates and environmental toxins have evidence of being associated with CFS. There is a higher rate of CFS in those working in jobs that have exposure to chemicals such as pesticides and recreational drugs

• Published scientific papers since 2009 consider CFS to be associated with dysfunction of mitochondria –  small parts of cells that produce energy from sugar and oxygen.  It has been shown that energy, known as ATP, made by mitochondria, is associated in nerve pathways that transmit feelings of fatigue to the brain. 

• CFS is higher in those who over exercise, lack sleep, or have poor diets. 

• Infection, injury, environmental factor, hormonal imbalance and psychological stress all create a stress/adrenaline response. This causes blood vessels to constrict and blood flow to diminish to parts of the central nervous system. Long term poor perfusion of oxygen and nutrients leads to fatigue and other symptoms.

Although there are no conventional tests that confirm a diagnosis of CFS, diagnostic Functional Medicine testing can identify deficiencies in specific nutrients needed by mitochondria.  Tests are also performed to measure environmental toxins, hormone functionality, and a variety of other imbalances that may be present in the body.  Any of these could ultimately lead to CFS.  By working with a Functional Medicine practitioner and getting to the root cause of the CFS symptoms, it is possible to successfully treat and eliminate it. 


In Good Health,

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