UNDERSTANDING CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME AND FIBROMYALGIA
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complex illness affecting the brain and multiple body systems. It is defined by incapacitating fatigue that is not relieved by rest and four or more of the following symptoms for at least six months: impaired short-term memory or concentration which significantly affects normal activities, sore throat, tender lymph nodes in the neck or underarms, muscle and joint pain, headaches, and general malaise following physical exertion that lasts more than 24 hours. Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder characterized by chronic fatigue, poor sleep, and intermittent muscle pain, particularly at “trigger points.” Other symptoms include cognitive and mood changes, digestive symptoms, food and chemical sensitivities, and chronic headaches. About two-thirds of people diagnosed with chronic fatigue also meet the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, and vice versa. Patients with FM/CFS often have some or all of these overlapping medical issues: irritable bowel syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, depression, food sensitivities, yeast infections, celiac disease, lactose intolerance, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome. The integrative approach to evaluation and treatment of physical and psychological symptoms begins with identifying multiple underlying factors that may be responsible: digestion, inflammation, immune reactions, hormone levels, oxidative stress, toxicities, microbial infections, and the psychological state of the individual.