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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Facts, Disease Nutritional Support Strategies

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Facts and Statistics

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome leaves its victims exhausted to the point that even a short walk will send them to bed too worn out to even do what it takes to live a normal life.Everyone knows what it's like to be tired, but those suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are more than just tired all of the time. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome leaves its victims exhausted to the point that even a short walk around the block will send them to bed too worn out to even do what it takes to live a normal life--and yet they used to run several miles a day. The big problem is that this exhaustion goes on and on, day in and day out for months or even years.

In the mid-1980s it was nicknamed the "yuppie flu" and made headline news. This flu hit mostly young professional women and was often thought to be just burnout or depression that was "all in their heads." The fact that CFS affects more women than men is just one of many mysteries associated with the illness; and to date medical science has not been able to develop a definitive test that can prove whether a person truly has CFS. The medical community still relies on a series of symptoms to make a diagnosis. One thing that has changed since the 1980s, CFS is widely regarded as a physical illness, not a mental one.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that this debilitating disease affects 100,000 to 250,000 Americans, but many researchers believe that CFS is far more common than this. Chronic fatigue syndrome is three times more prevalent in women than in men and is most common in younger adults, with 90% of cases in the 25-50 year age range.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can vary from person to person and because symptoms closely resemble those of various other disorders such as the flu or other viral infections, hypochondria, psychosomatic illness, depression, and mononucleosis. In fact, the symptoms of CFS so closely mirror those of fibromyalgia (FM) (with up to 70% of patients diagnosed with FM having signs and symptoms matching a diagnosis of CFS) that the only real difference between the two is that the main diagnostic criteria for FM is the requirement for musculoskeletal pain while the main criteria for CFS is disabling fatigue lasting for at least 6 months. Interestingly, one study by the CDC showed that the fatigue associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome changed to the muscle pain of fibromyalgia if CFS patients didn't show significant improvement in their symptoms after a five year period.

The CDC's formal set of diagnostic criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is defined as:

1.) Unexplained, persistent, or relapsing fatigue that is not a result of ongoing exertion, is new (not lifelong), is not alleviated by rest, and results in a substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, social, or personal activity

2.) The occurrence of four or more of the following symptoms that have persisted or recurred for 6 or more consecutive months and that do not predate the fatigue:

    Flu-like symptoms are common in those with CFS.
  • Substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration
  • Sore throat
  • Tender lymph nodes
  • Muscle pain
  • Multi-joint pain without swelling or redness
  • Headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity
  • Unrefreshing and/or interrupted sleep
  • Post-exertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours
  • Sensitivity to odors, noise, bright lights, medications, and various foods

The CDC's definition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (see above) is debated by many experts since it excludes or downplays many other symptoms (including many of the psychological symptoms) commonly manifested by those suffering from CFS. The chart below lists some of these symptoms as well as the rate at which they occur among CFS patients.

Symptom/Sign Frequency
Fatigue 100%
Low-grade fever 60-95%
Muscle pain 20-95%
Sleep disorder 15-90%
Impaired mental function 50-85%
Depression 70-85%
Headache 35-85%
Allergies 55-80%
Sore throat 50-75%
Anxiety 50-70%
Muscle weakness 40-70%
After-exercise fatigue 50-50%
Premenstrual Syndrome (women) 50-60%
Stiffness 50-60%
Visual Blurring 50-60%
Nausea 50-60%
Dizziness 30-50%
Joint pain 40-50%
Dry eyes and mouth 30-40%
Diarrhea 30-40%
Cough 30-40%
Decreased appetite 30-40%
Night sweats 30-40%
Painful lymph nodes 30-40%

[From the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 1998, pg. 361.]

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diseases

While the exact cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is unknown, there are several theories. Most experts believe that CFS is an immune activation (autoimmune) disorder in which the immune system is so geared up to defend the body against invaders that it attacks the body's own tissues. This autoimmune activity is similar in some respects to lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Many CFS patients suffer from gastrointestinal overgrowth of Candida albicans and allergies, common findings in those with impaired immune function. Other experts believe that some sort of viral infection plays a role in CFS with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) as the main suspect. Other suspected viral agents for CFS include the human herpes virus 6, Inoue-Melnich virus, Brucella, Borrelia bugdorferi, giardia lamblia, cytomegalovirus, enterovirus and the retrovirus.

Other possible causes of CFS include a defect in the mechanisms that regulate blood pressure, anemia, chronic mercury poisoning from amalgam dental fillings, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, sleep problems, and fibromyalgia.

Proper nutrition plays an important role in CFS.As with all things, proper nutrition plays an important role in chronic fatigue syndrome. A deficiency of virtually any nutrient can produce the symptoms of fatigue and render the body more susceptible to infection.

Studies show that multiple nutrient deficiencies, food intolerance, or extreme physical or mental stress can trigger CFS. Incorporating dietary changes and nutritional supplementation to make up for deficiencies can help enhance the immune system, making it less susceptible to diseases such as CFS, and helping the body fight CFS by improving energy levels and easing some of the symptoms of the disease.

Those suffering from CFS often fall prey to other diseases and disorders as a result of their compromised immune systems. Depression is quite common among CFS patients. Also common is impaired or "sluggish" liver function (hepatic detoxification).

Impaired hepatic detoxification occurs when the liver is stressed by such things as exposure to food additives, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and other toxins and can no longer remove these toxins from the body quickly enough. This "sluggish liver" problem leaves the body with a "junkyard" of foreign substances that cause depression, general malaise, headaches, digestive disturbances, allergies, chemical sensitivities, PMS and constipation; all of which a person who is already suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome hardly needs.

In one study of CFS patients with impaired hepatic detoxification who underwent a comprehensive detoxification program, 52% showed a reduction in symptoms after 10 weeks with symptom improvement mirroring the normalization of liver detoxification mechanisms. One system for liver detoxification is a Liquid Oxygen Flush. Another alternative is a Lemon/Honey Cleanse

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Nutritional Support Strategies

Our Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Self-management Program will give you additional nutrient and lifestyle. We also include the Center for Disease Control Framework for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to help you understand on a large scale what the government is doing.

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