FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — It’s often called a mystery illness. But people who suffer with this experience real pain and extreme fatigue. Here are details on how researchers are helping those tired of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Paula Bushman loves working in her garden. But the former marine and mom of three suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and some days she can’t get off the couch.
“It’s a 500 pound gorilla on your back,” described Bushman.
Chronic fatigue syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. Researchers say it could be triggered by a bad virus or in Bushman’s case possibly toxic water she was exposed to while stationed at Camp LeJeune. At first, doctors told her it was in her head.
“We think you need to go to a psychiatrist, and I said ‘what you think I’m crazy?,’” Bushman told Ivanhoe.
It wasn’t until Bushman found Nancy Klimas, M.D., director of Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that she finally got some answers.
“It’s certainly not some abhorrent depression or psychological thing; it’s a biological condition,” explained Dr. Klimas. (Read Full Interview)
The illness involves inflammation of the brain.
Dr. Klimas detailed, “It affects how you think. It affects your cognition. It affects your hormone regulation.”
Now Dr. Klimas and her team are on the verge of a breakthrough identifying a specific gene which will allow them to predict the best medications.
For now, Dr. Klimas put Bushman on a regimen of vitamins and supplements to boost her immune system.
She feels better then she has in years.
Bushman told Ivanhoe, “I wasn’t always in bed. I could do dishes, simple things.”
Doctors say it’s important for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome to pace themselves. The first clinical trial is expected next spring.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Janna Ross, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Judy Reich, Videographer.
TOPIC: Tired of Chronic Fatigue?
REPORT: MB #4195
BACKGROUND: Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated disease characterized by extreme fatigue that is not correlated to any medical condition. The fatigue can get worse with any physical activity, but it does not get better with any type of rest. The cause for this syndrome is unknown, but there are several theories that state it can be caused due to viral infections, immune system problems, hormonal imbalances or psychological stress.
TESTS & TREATMENTS: At the moment, there is no specific test that can confirm a patient is suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. Because most of the symptoms are similar to symptoms of other diseases, the doctor has to rule out sleep disorders, mental health issues or any other medical problems. A lot of doctors used to believe this syndrome was a mental health issue; therefore, in order to diagnose a patient, they must have the following symptoms for more than 6 months:
- Loss of memory or concentration
- Sore throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
- Unexplained muscle pain
- Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
- Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
Once the patient is diagnosed with the syndrome, the treatments he/she receives will depend on how the fatigue affects them. Antidepressants, sleeping pills, graded exercise and psychological counseling may be prescribed and recommended.
NEW RESEARCH: Dr. Nancy Klimas, with the help of her team of researchers, are on the verge of a breakthrough identifying specific genes which will allow them to predict the best medicines to treat this syndrome. Dr. Klimas and her team asked trial patients to exercise because they know this may cause them to relapse. During the exercise, they look at which genes get turned on and off, allowing them to target the specific gene causing the fatigue. Because this is an inflammatory disease of the immune system, Dr. Klimas usually recommends her patients pace themselves, She also recommends a regimen of vitamins and supplements, specific to each patient.
(Source: Dr. Nancy Klimas)
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