We all experience seasons of our lives that are marked by fatigue and exhaustion. But for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), sleep deprivation and difficulty with thinking and concentrating isn’t just a phase that lasts a couple weeks or months. Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness that can have serious effects on many of the body’s systems for six months or more.
In patients with CFS, there is no primary illness or condition causing the fatigue. The fatigue is a force of its own, requiring, in some cases, a battery of medical tests as providers rule out other potential illnesses.
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Many patients describe their experience as being akin to the flu. Symptoms of CFS may include:
- Joint/muscle pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Digestive problems
- Night sweats
CFS can affect patients mentally, as well. Mood swings, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks are not uncommon among individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome.
If faced with CFS, what can you do? While there is no “cure” for CFS, there are some strategies you can discuss with your doctor about implementing into your daily routine.
#1 Improve Quality of Sleep
Avoiding caffeine and alcohol altogether can be a good first step toward improving your chances of getting quality sleep. Try to establish a regular nighttime routine that lets your body know it’s time to go to bed. Avoid screens for at least 90 minutes prior to bedtime.
#2 Get Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is widespread, affecting patients with CFS, as well as the general population. This deficiency makes it difficult for your body to absorb calcium. The deficiency can be responsible for bone pain, muscle pain, fatigue, and difficulty thinking. While you can get vitamin D through sun exposure, talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement, which allows you to know the actual amount of Vitamin D that’s getting into your system.
#3 Graded Exercise Therapy
Graded exercise therapy has patients start exercising with slow stretching and gentle movements. Intensity and duration of exercise is increased gradually over time as the body becomes accustomed to the movements. Graded exercise therapy has been shown to reduce fatigue in patients with CFS.