CFS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: chronic and persistent fatigue and weakness in the absence of any other physical condition. This basically means that they don’t really know what it is, so it becomes “CFS” by default.
Symptoms aside from the fatigue include (and worsen upon physical or mental stress or exertion):
Loss of memory
Enlarged lymph nodes
Wandering joint pain
One problem with this is that these symptoms are also included in the list of certain types of infection, most notably Lyme disease. They are also present in mood disorders like depression and also other psychological conditions.
Anxiety of any kind typically exacerbates the symptoms.
No one knows what causes CFS, although many doctors believe the symptoms themselves are the residual result of other conditions. Stated another way, CFS isn’t the condition…it is the collection of symptoms that are the long-term effects of an infection, hormone problem, or mood disorder.
FMS or Fibromyalgia Syndrome: This is basically the same issue in a slightly different package. Added to the list of symptoms above are the very troublesome symptoms of widespread pain and bowel disturbances.
The collection of symptoms can be suddenly turned on after an infection or severely stressful event or they can slowly creep up over a number of years. Again, doctors don’t seem to be able to agree definitively on the cause.
One key characteristic of both conditions is that the symptoms don’t improve with “adequate” rest. The problem here is that many people aren’t getting the rest they need even though they think they are sleeping at night.
Ideally, you want to be able to sleep at least 6 hours without waking for any reason. Many people in the highest risk categories (women age 40 to 50) are going to have a lot of trouble hormonally and sleep wise anyway as their bodies begin the march toward pre-menopause.
So we get to a place where there are a host of frustrating symptoms that are also part of other conditions that may or may not be present as well or that may or may not have triggered what is being referred to as CFS or FMS.
It can leave a person wondering about the chicken and the egg riddle- which came first?
As we look again at the infection/hormone/psychological element, the frequency with which these syndromes are diagnosed does bear scrutiny.
At least one million Americans currently have the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It has been reported that it actually costs the US economy upwards of $20 billion annually in lost productivity.
FMS is actually third on the list of rheumatologic disorders diagnosed in the US. It also claims the designation of being the second leading problem reported with work-related disruptions and absences.
These numbers are incredible, considering these diagnoses used to be completely unheard of only a few decades ago. While it helps to understand a little better what is killing our workplace productivity and likewise quality family time, the symptoms are nevertheless still there. Labeling the problem doesn’t fix it.
Any way you slice it, most of the symptoms are ones that can be managed with natural methods. They are also symptoms that, if NOT managed, only further contribute to the cycle of pain and misery with these two syndromes.
Lack of sleep sets an angry cascade of consequences raging in the sufferer that wind up making sleep even harder to come by.
Bowel disturbances make proper nutrition an elusive goal as well, and the deficiencies there kick a whole other set of dominoes to fall.
And stress? Well, that’s the last pillar in the trifecta of evil that causes many of these problems.
Attack these issues all at once, and it is very likely that one of two things will happen:
1) you will find your symptoms completely relieved and your life on a new and healthier path, or
2) you will have removed enough of the interference to actually reveal a treatable underlying condition that got missed during the initial diagnosis.
Either way, you’ll be miles ahead of where you were.