In this blog, we will look into the possible cause of chronic fatigue syndrome and some different perspectives for looking into the same disease at a different angle.
Chronic fatigue syndrome as defined by The Center of Disease Control (CDC) defines chronic fatigue syndrome that requires three criteria. First, the person should be experiencing chronic fatigue symptoms for six months or longer consecutively with other medical workup being negative. Fatigue interfering in daily activity, and the minor criteria include at least 4 of the 8 symptoms that the CDC has described, which include post-exertional malaise lasting for more than 24 hours, un-refreshing sleep, significant improvement in short-term memory or concentration, muscle pain, pain in the joints without swelling or redness, headaches of a new type or pattern, tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit and frequent sore throat. The symptoms have to be present for at least six months or longer then a definition of chronic fatigue syndrome applies to the person suffering these constitutional symptoms when there is no specific etiology for it.
Looking into a different angle for the same manifestation of the disease with any effect there has to be a cause. Cause and effect go hand-and-hand. It may be possible that the cause may not be apparent. That does not mean that there is no cause. A negative medical workup of ruling out thyroid dysfunction, hematological disease, malignancy, bone marrow disorder such as anemia, hormonal dysfunction, and all other relevant workup though negative if still experiencing persistent fatigue there has to be an underlying cause behind this. It may be different from patient-to-patient experiencing the chronic fatigue syndrome. Individualizing the evaluation and management for chronic fatigue syndrome is needed as no two patients with chronic fatigue syndrome are alike even if they manifest the same kind of symptoms with predominance of fatigue.
The disease may be at a more subtle level and may not be quantifiable. There are a lot of symptoms and signs in medicine that cannot be quantified such as pain, emotion, stress, worries, anxiety, etc. Because it is more at a subtle level, the author believes that there is an underlying etiology or cause of the disease. A negative medical work up is needed for a diagnosis of CFS. That means that underlying cause may not show up on any lab test, x-ray, CAT scan, etc. Which also means the person is still suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms but there is no medical cause of the disease that can be addressed and this is what frustrates the patients. That is why as a first step a good details medical work up is needed for evaluation of the CFS but once the work up is negative then one may need to look into alternative medical source for treatment management as an options and its understanding of the disease.
Because modern medicine has its limitation in addressing the CFS use of other methods may help understand the disease. Back to the cause and effect relationship. If there is a disease there has to be a cause and if underlying cause is not found then need to be look at different alternative medical view is still worth as there is no specific treatment in modern medicine.
There are different alternative medicines in the world. Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical sciences which have described the Chronic Fatigue syndrome thousands of years ago. It has described the causes, and how to management. Ayurveda has described it based on the Prakruti ( Genetics of the person) and Vikruti ( imbalance of energy flow in the body) So looking into an Ayurveda angle and similarly other alternative medical modalities may have to offer the understanding of the disease which describe the disease in better way than just putting just groups symptoms as a disease. From Ayurveda the chronic fatigue syndrome may fall into the vata, Pitta imbalance or called imbalance of energy flow of fire, water and air. CFS is also low flow of Prana (decreased life force) and imbalance of Agni or metabolic fire or accumulation of Ama or toxins in the body and or its combinations. One needs to look into all of this and is different from patient to patient.
If the energy flow is low then how can one increase the energy flow of improve prana in the body been described in Ayurveda. CFS is a low flow of energy in the body and mind. To improve the energy or prana in the body Pranayama is a key. Pranayama or the breathing techniques of Yoga is the one that is described in Ayurveda.
The patient and the healthcare professional should look into what could be the trigger for this CFS condition. It could be an event in life which may be a major event such as an accident, separation, loss of a loved one, etc. It may be a drug side effect that slowly builds up over a period of time like anti-depression drugs, statin drugs, etc. It may be the result of a self-indulgent lifestyle over a period of years or chronic sleep deprivation. It could be unhealthy eating habits or an inability to handle personal stress. It could be a combination of one or multiple other causes, which over a period of months or years gradually develops. Every single stone of possible causes needs to be looked into and see any of that applies or not.
As the causes are multiple, a subtle finding has many shades of green, and there is no one particular treatment. One should look to a healthcare professional that is more open to look into causes once an extensive medical evaluation has been done and major causes have been ruled out. Individualized treatment may alleviate symptoms and depending on the severity in the early phase, symptoms may resolve. In many of them it may alleviate to improve quality of life, but one needs to have a long-term plan to maintain control of the disease thereby improving quality of life, productivity in life, and having an ability to do the things one desires with also knowing ones limitations and things that should be avoided in the process.
One needs to look into the underlying cause of what has started the chronic fatigue symptom. The constitutionals of the symptoms make a syndrome, but analyzing the life event and accepting the unchangeable, having a disciplined approach of management, supplements, relaxation and stress management, improvement in sleep, appropriate healthy diet, etc., is needed. It may take months for symptoms to slowly improve. Use of yoga and pranayama may further help facilitate alleviation of symptoms if done appropriately, and thereby improving the quality of life.