Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). CFS is a condition characterized by feeling extremely tired and unable to sleep or rest adequately. Often dismissed in the past as ‘yuppie flu’, CFS is a seriously debilitating disorder that adversely affects the lives of patients we see.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome is distinguished by extreme tiredness and fatigue that isn’t improved by rest. You don’t need a vacation or eight hours of sleep regularly – if you have CFS you suffer such crushing fatigue that you often can’t get out of bed, get dressed, prepare food, or manage any other daily tasks.
On ‘good’ days you may find you can do these things, but you may find it difficult to concentrate, or to walk to the end of the block. Pushing yourself to complete household chores and unfinished tasks can often exacerbate your symptoms (post-exertional malaise), meaning you have to spend more time in bed.
CFS is shown in part to be an autoimmune disease. Often, patients report that their energy levels dropped after coming down with the flu or mono, and they never recovered. Your body continues to fight an enemy that is no longer present, resulting in the following:
Your immuno-inflammatory pathways are being constantly activated, which results in inflammation of your different tissues (particularly those of the muscles and joints).
Molecular mimicry, where your immune system mistakes healthy cells for infectious agents and attacks them.
Depleted reserves of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – your body’s main energy currency.
When you consider all that is going on inside your body, it’s no surprise that you feel achy and struggle to find energy.