Chronic fatigue syndrome (sometimes shortened to chronic fatigue) is a disorder characterized by extreme tiredness with no known cause. Individuals with chronic fatigue often don't have any other known medical conditions that could be causing the fatigue. The fatigue usually doesn't improve even after the individual has gotten a good night's sleep, and could get worse after strenuous physical or mental activity. There isn't a specific test to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome, which means patients may have to undergo several evaluations so other health conditions can be ruled out. Treatment for chronic fatigue is focused on reducing the symptoms of the condition.
Pain Relief Medication
Pain relief medication can effectively treat chronic fatigue by relieving the discomfort associated with the condition. Pain is sometimes associated with this condition, and if pain receptors are not as active, it's more likely an individual experiencing chronic fatigue will be able to get a good night's sleep, or at least function better throughout the day. Doctors may recommend over-the-counter medications for relieving pain, such as ibuprofen or acetylsalicylic acid. Medicines containing acetaminophen may also soothe muscle and joint pain associated with chronic fatigue. In severe cases, physicians may recommend strong pain medication to alleviate symptoms.
Sleep Aid Medication
Some chronic fatigue patients may be able to find relief if they can get restful sleep. Sleep aids prompt the body to sleep and help prevent insomnia. While the proper amount of sleep on a regular basis may not help all patients, it can be beneficial for some. Natural sleep aids like melatonin help the body naturally relax and can prevent insomnia. Essential oils like lavender can also treat chronic fatigue by promoting regular sleep.
Lavender also has antibacterial properties that can make it easier for patients to rest. Infection is said to be one possible cause of chronic fatigue, and lavender helps to combat this. Prescription sleep aid medication can also be helpful. Several medicines have been approved by the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) to help patients sleep through the night. Some of these can help patients with chronic fatigue wake up refreshed.
Limit Caffeine Intake
Since caffeine is a natural stimulant, most individuals would think a cup of coffee or green tea could help patients with chronic fatigue to feel more alert during the day. However, caffeine can also provide the body with energy for a while before the body experiences a crash. Chronic fatigue patients should limit caffeine intake as much as possible. Some individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome will become more tired than they were before having a caffeinated beverage. Once the effects of a cup of coffee or tea wear off, the body is craving more caffeine. Drinking caffeinated beverages can also increase the craving for sugar since most coffee and tea drinks are heavily sweetened. It's best to limit caffeine and to only drink coffee or tea with little or no sugar as needed.
Avoid Napping During The Day
Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome will likely feel the urge to take naps during the day. While this seems like a solution for treating fatigue, daytime napping could throw off the body's natural sleep pattern or circadian rhythm, which is why it's usually best to avoid napping during the day. Napping during the day can also impede the function of the brain in patients dealing with chronic fatigue. Daytime napping has even been associated with anxiety and depression. It's best to get as much sleep as possible at night and stay awake during the day. This is especially important because patients may not be able to take a nap daily, which keeps the body from anticipating a regular sleep routine.
Create A Sleep Routine
Chronic fatigue patients can create a sleep routine to reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome as well. About an hour before going to bed, individuals should turn off all electronic devices with an LED light, since this can keep the brain awake while the body is preparing for sleep. Playing soft background music and using an oil diffuser to emit lavender or vetiver oil into the bedroom can calm the senses and promote relaxation.
Scheduling dinner for about three hours before bedtime can combat chronic fatigue as well. When the body has had some time to digest food before bedtime, the digestive system won't be working while the mind and body and anticipating sleep. Keeping the room cool can also promote rest; when the body is cool, it intuitively knows it's time for sleep since cooler temperatures are associated with the evening hours.
Cognitive training can be used to help treat chronic fatigue. This is one of the most cost-effective options, though it should generally be paired with other treatments like medication. Many patients with chronic fatigue report their memory and concentration are both impaired. Researchers have found using remediation training to improve concentration can be helpful. They often use the same brain stimulation tools used to help prevent dementia onset in the elderly. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be helpful to a point as well. This type of therapy can help patients face any social anxiety, stress, or executive dysfunction they experience as a result of their condition. However, CBT hasn't been proven effective in increasing overall energy levels.
Choose a Better Mattress Or Pillow
Individuals with chronic fatigue often have unrefreshing sleep. Even after getting a full eight to nine hours of rest, they still feel tired and sluggish when they wake up. Though this won't necessarily alleviate all fatigue symptoms, one at-home thing individuals can do is improve their sleep quality by choosing a better mattress or pillow.
If individuals aren't comfortable when they sleep, their body will struggle to perform the tasks it needs to while they rest. They should make sure to keep their room at a comfortable sleeping temperature. The mattress they use should offer both support and cushioning. If the mattress is old and sagging, it's time to trade it in. A good mattress will promote spinal health while being soft enough to cushion an individual's body. Different people have different firmness preferences, so everyone should try a few before making a final decision.
Gradually Increase Exercise Intensity
If individuals are dealing with chronic fatigue, they'll want to gradually increase their exercise intensity. Patients with chronic fatigue walk a fine line when it comes to exercise. Too much exercise can deplete their energy levels and make their exhaustion significantly worse. These increased exhaustion levels may last for days. This is because their body can't tolerate the same levels of exercise able-bodied individuals can manage. But research also shows mild exercise can help improve symptoms. Just moving around a little each day can be helpful. Individuals should not, however, push into workouts beyond their limits. If they're increasing their exercises, it's important for them to do so very gradually. Individuals must pay attention to how their body feels as they exercise, and take frequent breaks.
Research indicates low doses of certain antidepressants can help with both chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressant on the market. These medications, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, work by increasing the amounts of serotonin in the body. Meanwhile, SNRIs affect both serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Both of these substances are neurotransmitters that help transmit messages throughout the brain.
Serotonin helps with processing pain and regulating an individual's sleep cycle. Norepinephrine helps with alertness, memory, and regulating stress responses in the body. By using norepinephrine, the patient's brain can create dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that helps with motivation and focus. Low-dose antidepressants can help regulate the function of both norepinephrine and serotonin, which in turn leads to symptom relief for those with chronic fatigue.
Some symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome may be alleviated through acupuncture, according to multiple studies. Acupuncture is an alternative medicine practice that's been used for thousands of years. During acupuncture treatments, thin needles penetrate the skin to help disrupt the messages nerves send. Multiple studies have shown acupuncture helps with chronic pain, though researchers aren't sure why yet. In patients with chronic fatigue, studies show acupuncture helps with general mental health, quality of life, and physiological function. Some patients also experienced improvements in their pain levels and ability to function socially. Some studies indicate acupuncture can help with energy levels as well.