Chronic Fatigue: What is It? Causes, Symptoms & Remedies

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It’s normal to be tired at the end of a long day, or even the end of a long week! But many Americans find that they feel tired all the time and for no apparent reason. They aren’t sick, they think they eat a good diet, and they get enough sunshine.

So why are they constantly tired? They might have a condition called chronic fatigue, which is a complex disorder without one big cause. This page will break down chronic fatigue in detail so you know what symptoms to look out for and explore some natural steps or lifestyle changes you can make to tackle chronic fatigue once and for all.

What is Chronic Fatigue?

Chronic fatigue (also called chronic fatigue syndrome, ME or myalgic encephalomyelitis, or SEID/systemic exterior intolerance disease) is a unique and difficult disorder namely characterized by long-lasting, extreme exhaustion or fatigue that lasts for at least six months.

Chronic fatigue can’t be explained by any other underlying medical condition, and it applies to both physical and mental activity. Most disappointingly, chronic fatigue usually does not improve with rest.

In some cases, chronic fatigue could be related to adrenal fatigue, another condition characterized by inflammation throughout the entire body. There isn’t a test to confirm a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. In these circumstances and others, doctors typically diagnose chronic fatigue by ruling out any other possibility and thoroughly checking for other conditions or illnesses. 

What Causes Chronic Fatigue?

Unfortunately, the causes of chronic fatigue are still unknown by medical professionals. However, it may be that some people have an inborn predisposition for this disorder and that one or more key factors could trigger it into activity.

Some of the apparent causes or triggers for chronic fatigue include:

  • Low immune system activity or health, which could drain the body of energy regularly as the immune system fights. 
  • Hormonal imbalances, which can also sap away energy and leave one feeling tired all the time.
  • Viral infections, for the same reason that having a low immune system can be tiring.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Oxidative stress on bodily tissues and organs.
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as by having a very narrow diet.
  • Food sensitivities or allergies, which can upset the digestive system and also lead to nutritional deficiencies as described above.

The Center for Disease Control suggests that people with symptoms resembling those of CFS should consult their physician to rule out treatable illnesses like Lyme disease, sleep disorders,  depression, substance abuse, or diabetes.

Chronic Fatigue Symptoms

Alongside feeling constantly exhausted, chronic fatigue is usually accompanied by the following symptoms which may be uncomfortable, such as:

  • Joint pain or muscle pain.
  • Poor concentration or cognitive fog (inability to think clearly).
  • Loss of memory, or short-term memory.
  • Enlarged or tender lymph nodes.
  • Anxiety or Major Depressive Disorder.
  • Headaches.
  • Swelling.
  • Sore throat.
  • Night sweats.
  • Tenderness.
  • Digestive disorders.
  • Post-exertional malaise (PEM).

Because chronic fatigue is such a difficult condition to nail down, symptoms can vary heavily between individuals. Worsening of symptoms may require a physical examination and or laboratory tests to rule out any other medical diagnosis.

Remedies for Chronic Fatigue

At this time, there are plenty of doctor-prescribed medications to take. But these may not be a good idea for a few big reasons.

Antidepressants and sleeping pills, which doctors may prescribe to treat the symptoms of chronic fatigue rather than the cause, can have a number of side effects and lead to poor health later down the road. 

Instead, it’s a better idea to focus on natural remedies that may help your body experience better holistic wellness. Over time, these natural remedies might alleviate your chronic fatigue.

Eliminate Food Sensitivities and Allergens

First, take steps to identify and eliminate any food sensitivities or allergens that may be a regular part of your diet. Some of the most common allergens in humans include gluten and lactose, found in bread products and dairy products respectively, soy products, nuts, shellfish, and yeast.

All of these potential food sensitivities could be wreaking havoc on your digestive system without you even knowing it. You can identify these food sensitivities by following a low-FODMAP or another food sensitivity diet. These diets will have you progressively eliminate certain food groups, then reintroduce them one at a time to narrow down which food items are causing the most trouble.

Not only will doing help resolve chronic fatigue, but it’ll also make you feel a lot healthier overall!

Get Your Candida Imbalance Under Control

Your body might also be under the influence of a candida imbalance. Candida is a common type of fungus normally found in your mouth, in the intestines, and on the skin in small amounts. But if candida grows uncontrollably, it could cause an infection and lead to the disruption of your immune system.

This can then spiral out of control and lead to a bunch of other side effects, like a greater susceptibility to illness. 

The best way to treat a candida imbalance is to adjust your diet. Avoid high lactose dairy products, refined sugars, and carbs, as these foods are the primary fuel for the candida fungus. At the same time, consume more probiotics found in certain types of yogurt and other products. These helpful bacteria can push out the candida and bolster your digestive tract.

Manage Your Stress Levels

Your stress levels can play a big role in how tired you feel and in how healthy your immune system is. Some recommendations for managing your stress levels are:

  • Getting enough sleep every night.
  • Intellectual stimulation (cognitive-behavioral therapy).
  • Exercising more regularly (exercise therapy).
  • Practicing meditation, yoga or tai chi to increase mental wellness.
  • Fostering and maintaining a strong social support network.
  • Avoiding tobacco and alcohol overconsumption. 

Summary

In the end, chronic fatigue may very well be a major symptom of general poor health, but without the obvious signs accompanied by normal illnesses or injuries. Follow the steps above and try to increase your body’s overall health; you’ll likely feel much better and your chronic fatigue might just fade away in time. 

Sources

Chronic intestinal candidiasis as a possible etiological factor in the chronic fatigue syndrome | NCBI

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) | CDC

Possible Causes | Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) | CDC

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