Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition in which the individual constantly feels too tired to perform any activity – even activities they enjoy. Worse yet, no amount of sleep or coffee can shake off this constant feeling of being tired.
Chronic fatigue syndrome affects roughly 836,000 Americans, and a shocking 84 to 91 percent of them are not even diagnosed. Researchers aren’t certain what causes chronic fatigue syndrome, but they do have many theories about potential causes.
For one, Epstein-Barr virus or herpes virus-4 have been theorized to be a potential cause for chronic fatigue syndrome. Inflammation of the nervous system has also been suspected to cause chronic fatigue syndrome.
Understanding the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome
Although the exact cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) isn’t well understood, there are different factors that contribute to CFS. Here some approaches that can help target possible factors that affect CFS:
Blood panels. Blood testing can check for hormones, vitamin and nutrient levels, viruses, cortisol levels, and other elements that can contribute to CFS.
Dietary evaluation. In some cases, the foods that you eat can be the culprit to your chronic fatigue. Processed foods, high-sugar foods, artificial foods can all contribute to chronic fatigue.
Medical consultation. A thorough medical examination will assess the state of your health as a whole to uncover any potential causes for chronic fatigue syndrome, such as viruses or infection.
Sleep test. Lack of sleep or a sleep disorder can be a contributor to CFS. Undergoing a sleep test can rule out any sleep disorder that could be causing your chronic fatigue.
Stress levels. Being chronically under stress can lead to fatigue. Chronic stress can be taxing on many health aspects, including the adrenal glands. For some patients, it may take years to reverse the damage caused by chronic stress.
Lifestyle changes for CFS
Experimenting with lifestyle changes when addressing your chronic fatigue syndrome is one way of trying to find relief. There are many different approaches you can try in order to reduce fatigue and get back to feeling like yourself again. Here are some of them:
- Support your adrenals – Avoiding stimulants can help reduce CFS. You can speak to your doctor or naturopath about adrenal triggers and ways to improve your adrenal health.
- Get tested for bacteria – Once the cause is established, your doctor can work with you to create an antibacterial treatment plan to clear your system.
- Revise your diet – As mentioned, diet can play a large role in CFS. It’s best that you avoid processed, refined, high-sugary foods, foods that contain artificial sweeteners, and foods high in calories and fat. Instead, opt for a wholesome diet of whole grains, lean meats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also, avoid foods you can’t tolerate.
- Exercise – Exercise can naturally promote energy and help to lose weight. Those who are overweight or obese may feel more fatigued than those with a healthy weight. Keep in mind, however, that over-exercising can lead to fatigue as well – everything is good in moderation.
- Limit sleep – Although you may be tired and choose to sleep throughout the day, you should limit your sleep to the overnight hours only. Try to push through your tiredness and carry on with your day.
- Go out into nature – Many studies have pointed to the positive impact of fresh air and sunlight on fatigue levels. If you’re constantly cooped up inside, you can feel more tired. Therefore, head outdoors to relieve tiredness.
- Try psychotherapy – If you really can’t understand the root of your fatigue, you may need to see a psychiatrist to have your mental health evaluated. You could very well be suffering from depression or another mental health disorder that requires treatment.
- Aim for sleep quality – As mentioned, proper sleep can improve fatigue. If you suspect you may be having a sleep disorder, go for a sleep test to determine the cause of your sleeping problems. It may also be tied to a mental health condition.
- Get social – If you live in isolation or don’t go out to socialize, then you may feel fatigued. Reaching out to others and maintaining a healthy social life can help boost your energy levels.
- Stay busy – If you’re bored or don’t have much to do, you may feel tired. Plan your days to keep yourself occupied, so you don’t have the time to stay idle and get tired.
- Reduce stress – Once again, stress can play a role in fatigue, so finding healthy ways to combat stress can improve CFS.
More tips to overcome chronic fatigue syndrome
Aside from the lifestyle changes above, here are some additional tips for treating chronic fatigue syndrome. For starters, don’t pretend you’re fine – it’s okay to recognize that your health needs your attention. Scale down on activities if you need to. People will be more understanding of your condition if you actually tell them about what you’re going through. Don’t forget to keep a positive attitude as well. Being negative can increase stress and aggravate your fatigue.
At some point, you may find that you need to force yourself to relax. Don’t keep going just because you feel you need to – such unnecessary persistence can cause you more harm than good. Be patient with your condition. You won’t get better overnight, so you shouldn’t get frustrated that you’re not progressing as fast as you would like to.
Lastly, be grateful for what you have in your life and set attainable goals to keep you moving.
With these tips, you can have greater success in managing your chronic fatigue syndrome.
Related: Mental exhaustion (fatigue): Symptoms, causes, and recovery tips