Living with an invisible illness: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Living with an invisible illness: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome - Healthians
Contributed by – Rachana Arya

It is perfectly normal to feel tired and fatigued after a busy day. Ideally, after a short period of rest, you should bounce back. However, if you find yourself feeling super tired for seemingly no reason at all and the feeling of exhaustion persists; you may want to visit your doctor in case you are exhibiting signs of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or CFS.


What is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is more than just feeling tired — it is a debilitating disorder defined by profound fatigue that can’t be validated by any underlying medical cause. The fatigue is not the usual kind of tiredness that is relieved by rest. On the contrary, it is a consistent/persistent, overwhelming exhaustion that doesn’t get better on its own. It lasts for a long time, disrupts ordinary daily activities and gets worse by physical or mental activity.


What are the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

Here are signs that you should take your tiredness seriously:

  • fragmented sleep pattern
  • inability to do routine activities
  • dizzy spells that worsen with movement
  • waking up exhausted, despite a good night’s sleep
  • inability to concentrate and remember things
  • sudden bouts of exhaustion that come and go
  • shortness of breath– even without doing anything
  • headache of a new pattern

Yet, above all, your strongest and most constant symptom is incapacitating fatigue. This type of fatigue is complex and can impact your health in many ways. You may find it difficult to stay on your feet for very long or even climb a flight of stairs without feeling exhausted. Social isolation is a part and parcel for many sufferers.


Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome - Healthians

What is the diagnostic criterion for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

In order to receive a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, there are two conditions that you should satisfy:

  • You should have severe chronic fatigue that has lasted six months or longer, and
  • You should concurrently have four or more of the above symptoms.


What causes chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

It is still unclear as to what causes CFS. There are many theories mainly — ranging from viral infections to psychological stress. The trigger for the disorder may vary in each person, and it may be something as simple as flu or a hormone imbalance, mental health problems, such as stress and emotional trauma after which CFS sets in.


What can you do to deal with chronic fatigue symptoms (CFS)?

When looking to deal with something that has been invisible for decades, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some things you can do if you have a CFS:

  • Adopt relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises or yoga
  • Eat smaller portions, well-balanced, and nutritious diet
  • Avoid energy-zapping foods,
  • Increase intake of fresh fruits and veggies that are packed with vitamin C
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine
  • Keep a diary, or activity log indicating the activities that produce fatigue

Above all, do not downplay symptoms with “Oh no, I’m fine, I’m too busy to worry about that”. Listen to your body and how you’re feeling. Take a break and do not ignore symptoms that are screaming at you to get rest. Avoid pushing yourself too hard, and commit to a healthy plan of action.


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