Chronic fatigue treatment starts by ruling out other causes of your symptoms

Treating chronic fatigue starts with getting the right diagnosis. About 90% of those with chronic fatigue aren’t diagnosed.

Treating chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME/CFS) starts with getting the right diagnosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90% of those with chronic fatigue aren’t diagnosed, as the illness often is misunderstood and mimics common illnesses that usually get better without treatment.

Chronic fatigue treatment options focus on relieving symptoms, which can vary widely among individuals.

Potential treatments include:

  • Graded exercise therapy. This is designed specifically as a treatment for chronic fatigue. The therapy is a customized plan of physical activity that starts slowly and gradually increases.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. This treatment addresses unhelpful patterns of thinking and learned behaviors that may be exacerbating chronic fatigue.
  • Various medications may be prescribed to control pain, depression and difficulty sleeping.

“Chronic fatigue often is misunderstood. While the symptoms can seem similar to less serious illnesses, chronic fatigue lasts more than six months, patients ‘crash’ after physical or emotional effort and they wake up feeling as tired as they did the night before,” said Loyal W. Walker, M.D., a family medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Taylorsville.

Talk to your provider about fatigue

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Those with chronic fatigue are unable to participate in routine activities such as work, school and socializing. The fatigue is not made better with rest and was a recent development.

Chronic fatigue also is characterized by an inability to concentrate or by feeling faint or lightheaded when standing.

If you suspect you have chronic fatigue syndrome, your primary care provider will look to rule out other possible causes of your fatigue. Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome may appear similar to many other illnesses such as anemia, an underactive thyroid, or liver and kidney conditions.

Your provider will ask about your health history, current symptoms and when you first started noticing them. Primary symptoms for chronic fatigue syndrome include:

  • Six months or more of decreased activity and energy level
  • “Crashing” after physical or mental activity that usually would not have exhausted you in the past
  • Not feeling rested after a full night of sleep, and issues failing and staying asleep

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