Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness manifested by prolonged, persistent fatigue, associated with some other symptoms. Some sources think that his illness has only appeared in the last few years, due to a more rapid lifestyle. However, history has indicated that chronic fatigue syndrome affected our ancestors as well. The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is not certain, but it is most likely multifactorial. Causes could include an impaired immune system, infection, endocrine disorders, neurological disorders or psychological disorders.
Immune System Disorders
One of the possible factors contributing to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome are immune system disorders. This factor is considered because a number of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome had abnormal laboratory test results. Immune system disorders are the change in the B and T- lymphocytes and especially the decreased activity of natural killer cells, which are responsible for non-specific immune reactions. Furthermore, it has been found that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have neutrophil granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, with an increased susceptibility for physiologically programed cell death.
Experienced or ongoing infections are another factor that can lead to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. It is expected that infections caused by the herpes virus, retroviruses, borreliae or brucella are responsible. However, the cause is not the effects of the pathogen itself, but rather the body's reaction to its presence.
Based on scientific research, it is assumed that endocrine changes are not involved in the development of chronic fatigue syndrome itself, but rather help maintain the condition. The most important is the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal gland ratio, as their damage is most likely a complication of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome also have functional and structural changes in their brains that can cause chronic fatigue syndrome. Reduced glucose metabolism, or sugar, the main energy source for the brain, had been observed in certain areas of the brains of patients suffering from this condition.
Psychological disorders play a very important role in the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. Stress has an especially negative effect on the immune system, which is then unable to function properly. Psychological effects can also contribute to chronic fatigue syndrome in an indirect way.
Clinical Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is when measurable, long-term fatigue that is not relieved with sleep, affects an individual. Unexplained fatigue should last more than 6 months and should not be a result of increased physical exertion. In addition to fatigue, symptoms such as muscle aches, joint pain, sleep problems, sensitive lymph nodes in the neck and underarms and decreased memory and cognitive function are also present.
Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is not easy to diagnose, as fatigue is a symptoms of various other illness which need to be eliminated one by one. In order to come to a diagnosis, the patient must experience unexplained pain for at least 6 months without the presence of other pathological conditions that could otherwise lead to fatigue. At least 6 symptoms must also be present, which include fever, neck pain, sensitive and swollen lymph node in the neck and underarms, fatigue, muscle pain, fatigue following exertion that lasts longer than 24 hours but had been tolerated before, headaches, joint pain, neuropsychological disorders and sleep problems.
Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome is arduous, as there is no known cause of this condition. Antidepressants can be prescribed, as well as psychostimulants or anti-inflammatory agents. Immunoglobulin, or antibodies, can also be administered, their effect, however, has not been proven in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. Vitamins and minerals, despite there not being any documented results of their positive effect on the condition, are also recommended. A number of patients have resorted to acupuncture or homeopathy as well, though these methods are controversial.