Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by persistent debilitating fatigue with reduction of physical activity, and is often combined with sore throat, muscle weakness, mild fever, tender lymph nodes, headaches and depression. Fatigue can be a devastating interruption to a normal lifestyle! However, fatigue is only a symptom of some underlying disorder. The causes of fatigue range from poor physical to mental or emotional health.
Chronic fatigue is often dismissed by the medical community, or is used as a “waste basket” diagnosis when incapable of identifying the cause of a problem. Depression is often the default diagnosis. Fatigued patients are burdened with medicines that alter their feelings of depression and fatigue instead of correcting the underlying illness. The fatigue grows grave and some of the suppressive medicines create more side effects, including fatigue!
Diagnosing the true cause of fatigue can be complicated. Often it takes atypical laboratory assessment and a tenacious attitude to follow all possible leads. There are well-studied and documented causes of fatigue which are chronically under-tested for or ignored altogether by M.D.’s. Examples of fatigue which can be diagnosed with laboratory tests and patient questioning include Lyme Disease, anemia, hypothyroid, dysfunctional adrenal stress response, chronic infections, allergies, immune imbalance, disease, neurotransmitter imbalance, hormones, poor digestion, side effects from treatments or damaged biochemical pathways. Lyme disease is commonly under-diagnosed because the usual lab tests are 30-50% accurate. The accuracy can increase significantly by adding PCR and Western Blot labs, but this isn’t the standard of conventional health care.
Once diagnosis is available, a treatment protocol needs to be developed. Treatment goals should include fixing the damage created during the fatigue, such as weight gain, loss of muscle strength, emotional deterioration, digestion, thyroid, energy production systems, damage to the stress response and change in metabolism with decreased immune function. Treatments should include any or all of the following: appropriate prescriptions, vitamin and mineral supplementation, proper diet, exercise, follow-up care and positive encouragement.
There are a variety of practitioners for the causes of fatigue, each with their treatment style. Sometimes a conventional treatment is the necessary and appropriate treatment. Often an integrated treatment is necessary to help cure the problem. Practitioners including licensed naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, osteopaths, homeopaths and others may have all or at least part of the solution to cure fatigue, and can help patients regain their lives. Alternative medicine can provide treatments neglected by conventional medicine.
Not all doctors are trained to understand appropriate integrated medical care referrals, or simply aren’t willing to accept that “alternative” treatments are effective. In our current state of health care, it may be necessary to manage your own medical case if it falls outside the box of conventional medicine, as chronic fatigue almost always does. Seek out health care that can offer services complementary to your belief in medicine. Ensure your practitioner is licensed and capable of helping you find the cause of your fatigue and of helping you along your road to wellness.
I’m sure you would like to see examples of fatigue treatment here. Examples would include cordyceps, adrenal glandulars, CoQ10 and Bioidentical Thyroid hormone, gut infection treatments and food elimination. The problem with fatigue is that there are so many problems that can cause fatigue that it’s difficult to state simple treatments. The best way by far to treat chronic fatigue is starting with an accurate diagnosis. First a detailed intake is critical to decide how to narrow down testing options. Testing may then include Metametrix Organix test, stool test for infections, thyroid panel with Free T3 (it must have free T3 on it!), adrenal testing, food intolerance and Lyme testing. The goal of seeing a naturopath for chronic fatigue is to find the cause of the problem and then come up with appropriate treatment…of which there are many when you know what to treat.