Sometimes, the urge to beat deadlines or meet your life goals might push you beyond your limits and adversely affect your health. So bad can this be that they have a term for it in Japan – karoshi, which means dying from extreme fatigue!
But, with the emergence of natural remedies like cannabidiol (CBD), you can keep fatigue at bay.
What is causing my chronic fatigue?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by extreme fatigue lasting more than six months. The condition worsens when you engage in mental and physical activities regardless of whether you rest.
There is no medically known cause for chronic fatigue thus far. However, experts propose several theories that can be used to explain CFS. One theory supposes that medical conditions such as viral infections, allergic rhinitis, kidney and liver disease, anemia, and more can make a person chronically fatigued.
Another theory proposes that CFS can also be caused by intense psychological stress. This can be due to work-related pressure, relationship problems, or general life stressors.
If any of these conditions is the reason behind your fatigue, the long-term outlook is positive. Medical experts will generally conduct a series of diagnostic tests to determine if you have chronic fatigue syndrome and prescribe treatment plans to improve the symptoms.
Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms
Generally, the symptoms of CFS may vary from one person to the other. Similarly, the severity of these symptoms can also fluctuate from time to time.
That said, here are common signs and symptoms of chronic fatigue.
- Sore throat
- Muscle or joint pains
- Feeling tired when you wake up from sleep
- Memory and concentration problems
- Dizziness that doesn’t get better regardless of whether you lie down, stand, or sit
- Extreme exhaustion resulting from mental or physical exercise
The symptoms usually align with their cause. For example, if allergic rhinitis is the cause of your chronic fatigue syndrome, the symptoms are likely to be headaches, fatigue, nasal congestion, fatigue, and itchiness.
On the other hand, anemia is often associated with dizziness, fatigue, feeling cold, and crankiness.
In other words, two people may have chronic fatigue syndrome but still exhibit different symptoms. Thus, the need for a battery of tests to assess the possibility of CFS.
Most common cause of chronic fatigue
Usually, there is an underlying reason behind your chronic fatigue syndrome. So, let’s look at the causes associated with the condition.
Bacterial or viral infections
Bacterial or viral infections can cause chronic fatigue syndrome. Fatigue is generally symptomatic of numerous conditions ranging from flu to HIV.
However, the severity of the fatigue might be a good indicator of the cause. For instance, HIV, COVID-19, and mononucleosis will cause long-lasting fatigue.
Food allergies and intolerance
Food is the body’s main energy source, so it’s disappointing that it can also be associated with fatigue. Medical reports indicate that allergies and intolerance to certain foods can make you feel exhausted.
So if you notice there are certain foods that, if you eat, leave you feeling low on energy, it may be that you are intolerant to that food.
Should this be the case, consider getting on an elimination diet to help you cut out the foods that cause the symptom. You can also do a food allergy test to identify offending foods. The idea is to see whether your condition improves.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a leading cause of chronic fatigue. People with this condition usually complain of morning stiffness, inflamed joints, joint pain, and fatigue.
The nature of these symptoms means that a person can easily become disabled. Therefore, you should seek early treatment immediately after you notice these symptoms.
Mild rheumatoid arthritis is commonly treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic medicines (DMARDS). Other strategies used to treat rheumatoid arthritis include anti-cytokine therapy.
The role of sleep in your overall mental and physical wellbeing is well documented. An adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep every day. However, not many people get restful, restorative sleep due to many reasons, one of which is sleep disorders.
Anything that affects your sleep quality can be a sleep disorder.
Sleep apnea is one of the common sleep disorders that often leaves you feeling tired even upon waking up. In severe cases like obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, the amount of oxygen reaching your brain is reduced significantly. This impairs normal brain functioning leading to other conditions like a heart attack.
Sleep apnea can expose you to serious risks such as heart attack and stroke if not treated sooner. Doctors treat sleep apnea using a CPAP machine. This machine works by keeping the airways constantly open by delivering a continuous flow of pressurized air.
Other sleep disorders that can bring fatigue include narcolepsy, insomnia, REM sleep disorder, and restless legs syndrome.
See a doctor if you notice that you often snore loudly at night and wake up feeling tired.
Hypothyroidism is characterized by a slow thyroid. This essentially means your thyroid does not produce enough for the body to operate optimally. The thyroid hormone regulates the rate of metabolism, i.e., how your body uses energy.
Hypothyroidism is caused by a condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It is an autoimmune disorder that prevents the thyroid from producing sufficient thyroid hormone.
The American Thyroid Foundation contends that hypothyroidism affects 17% of all women by 60. However, not many will know that they have it.
People with hypothyroidism will often experience extreme fatigue, weight gain, depression, feeling run-down, sluggishness, and cold intolerance.
Hypothyroidism is detected via T3 and T4 tests. To up low thyroid hormone levels, doctors usually prescribe synthetic thyroid hormones. This usually results in marked improvements relatively faster.
What is the cure for chronic fatigue syndrome?
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for chronic fatigue syndrome. Doctors generally focus on treating or managing the symptoms to relieve patients.
For instance, when a person gets extremely tired after a light activity (post-exertional malaise/PEM), physicians typically recommend activity management to address the situation. This strategy (activity management) aims to balance activity and rest to avoid PEM.
The patient is taught to understand their physical and mental limits so that they remain within their “energy envelope” during any activity.
Some other times, doctors encourage people to sleep more. To sleep well, good sleep hygiene is vital. Among other things, this means no bright lights in your bedroom, no noise, no TV or phone, and developing and sticking to your sleep routine.
However, even good sleep hygiene can sometimes fail, at which point you can think of using sleep aids. In more serious cases, therapies are more effective.
Pain localized in the joints and muscles is a common symptom in people with chronic fatigue syndrome. Patients with chronic pain can seek the assistance of pain specialists to learn new ways to cope.
Pain management can be done via over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin. The emergence of CBD also offers an alternative route for people looking for natural supplements.
Depression, anxiety, and stress
Chronic pain can easily lead to other conditions like depression, anxiety, and stress. Little wonder, therefore, that patients with ME/CFS tend to develop depression during their illness. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications can help manage depression.
However, keep in mind that some anti-depressants might worsen CFS symptoms, so talk to your doctor if this happens.
Other techniques like yoga, deep breathing, massage, and muscle relaxation can also help reduce stress and anxiety.
It is not uncommon for people with chronic fatigue syndrome to experience orthostatic intolerance when standing or sitting.
Sometimes changing your position, e.g., from sitting to standing, can suddenly trigger this symptom, making you feel dizzy, weak, have blurry vision, or make your heart beat faster.
Treatment or management starts with your heart rate and blood pressure getting checked by the doctor. If a faulty heart is not the cause of your CFS, your physician may recommend increasing your fluids and salt intake. Prescription medication is also an option.
Memory and concentration
Memory and concentration lapses are also common in patients with CFS/ME. Usually, stimulant medications help alleviate these symptoms.
However, these medications have also worsened the symptoms through what doctors refer to as the ‘push-and-crash’ cycle. What happens is that once the stimulant medicine kicks in, the patient feels much better and is tempted to do more than they should. So they crash.
Living with chronic fatigue syndrome can be life-changing. However, there are several non-medical strategies you can exploit professional counseling, eating a balanced diet, nutritional supplements, and complementary therapies.
Talk to a healthcare professional to learn which strategies suit your case better.
Best diet for chronic fatigue syndrome
Good nutrition helps people with CFS manage their symptoms better. Therefore, nutritionists recommend diets that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Keep off refined carbohydrates and saturated fats.
It is also advisable to eat smaller but many portions of food throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. Smaller portions also help people with CFS to avoid vomiting since they may also feel nauseated.
Avoid alcohol, sugar, sweeteners, and caffeine to prevent your energy levels from spiking.
A paper published in the Journal of Nutrition and Human Dietetics highlighted food components that positively impacted fatigue and associated symptoms. These were probiotics, polyphenols, CoQ10, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydride (NADH).
Also, there is evidence that D-ribose or omega-3 fatty acids may also help reduce some symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
CBD oil for chronic fatigue
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