Chronic Fatigue: The Hidden Epidemic
Do you struggle getting up in the morning? Do you crave sugar, coffee or other stimulants throughout the day? Are you exhausted towards the end of the day, yet are unable to sleep well at night? If the answers to any of the question is “yes” then you may be suffering from chronic fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complex condition that is mainly characterized by the feeling of extreme fatigue without any underlying medical conditions. This fatigue can get worse with mental or physical activity but doesn’t get better with rest or sleep. It is also called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) or Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID). Adrenal fatigue is becoming an important cause of undiagnosed chronic fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue Causes
Chronic fatigue causes are relatively unknown, but there are many theories about the root cause. These theories range all the way from psychological stress to viral infections, but most experts believe that the main cause can be a combination of different factors. People with chronic fatigue may seem hypersensitive to normal activity and exercise as well. Some theories suggest that some people may be predisposed to the disorder which is then triggered by one or more of the following:
- Viral Infections: Some people are more prone to developing chronic fatigue after going through a viral infection. Researchers have found that some viruses might trigger CFS such as mouse leukemia, human herpes virus 6, and Epstein-Barr virus.
- Immune System Issues: People who suffer from chronic fatigue have been known to have impaired immune systems.
- Hormonal Imbalances: Abnormal levels of hormones produced by the pituitary gland, the adrenal gland, and the hypothalamus can cause chronic fatigue symptoms.
- Adrenal Fatigue: Impaired ability of adrenal glands to produce adequate amounts of cortisol hormone. Patients typically tend to crave stimulants such as coffee, sugar, chocolate etc.
None of these chronic fatigue causes and triggers are conclusive, and there may be a number of different or combined factors that result in chronic fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue Symptoms
There are some signs that you should look out for. These include:
- Loss of memory or foggy thinking
- Lack of concentration
- Sore throat
- Enlarged neck or armpit lymph nodes
- Unexplained muscle or joint pain
- Restless sleep
- Extreme exhaustion (lasting for more than 24 hours) after physical or mental exercise
Chronic Fatigue Risk Factors
Some factors increase the chances of developing chronic fatigue. These can include:
- Age: CFS commonly affects people in their 40s and 50s but can occur at any age.
- Sex: Women are diagnosed with chronic fatigue more often than men. This may be due to social factors since women are more likely to report their symptoms or have more responsibilities at work and home combined.
- Women exposed to oral contraceptive pills, hormonal IUD or any other synthetic hormones.
- Stress: People who have difficulty managing stress may have a high risk of chronic fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue Complications
Chronic fatigue can develop into some complications that can further impact a person’s life in an adverse manner. These can include:
- Reduced sex drive and decreased ability to achieve an orgasm.
- Social isolation
- Lifestyle restrictions
- Increased work absences
Chronic Fatigue Diagnosis
There is also no single medical condition that results in fatigue, which is why there are no real tests to confirm chronic fatigue. At HEALOR Primary care, we may order a number of different tests including saliva hormone tests to rule out other problems with similar symptoms to chronic fatigue.
At HEALOR, we rule out certain medical conditions or illnesses before they can diagnose you with chronic fatigue. These tests can include:
- Saliva Hormone Testing to evaluate serum cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and Testosterone.
- Sleep disorders can result in chronic fatigue symptoms. We may order a home sleep study test that can determine if your rest cycle is affected by sleep disorders, resulting in chronic fatigue. Sleep apnea, insomnia, or restless leg syndrome can all affect sleep.
- Medical problems such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), anemia, and diabetes can cause chronic fatigue. Blood tests can help narrow down any medical conditions that may be affecting you.
- Heart and lung impairments can also make a person feel fatigued. Exercise stress tests can help diagnose lung and heart functions.
- Mental health issues like bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia are also potential causes. At HEALOR, we may refer you to a counselor to determine if any of these diseases are causing fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue Treatment
Chronic fatigue treatment depends on the possible conditional causing the fatigue
At HEALOR, we may prescribe adrenal support multivitamins, adrenal extracts, bioflavonoids to improve the cortisol output which may reduce fatigue levels. Most patients do not crave coffee, sugar or other stimulants after 4-6 weeks of treatment.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY:
When appropriate, we may order bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) to optimize tissue hormone levels.
Chronic fatigue is a complex condition that often goes undiagnosed but can cause a lot of suffering on the patient’s part. It is important to recognize the symptoms of the problem so that you can seek some chronic fatigue treatment for the issue.
At HEALOR, I have been able to help many patients with chronic fatigue over the past several years. I also travel frequently to teach and train other medical professionals in the art and science of chronic fatigue management. My years of experience has allowed me to formulate specific treatment protocols for adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, and hormone imbalances.
At HEALOR, we care, we cure.
Dr. Raj Singh MD, FACP, FASN