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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

This is a relatively new syndrome that has been raising its head since a couple of decades. It is symptomatic of the times, when work stress, overwork and coping with the rigors of juggling tough schedules seem to be the order of the day. This malaise is sometimes referred to as Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome or CFIDS and its exact cause has not been identified yet. The Human Herpes Virus 6 (HPV-6) has been suspected to be a possible cause, though no clear identification has yet been proved. Inflammation of the pathways in the nervous system is said to be a cause for CFS. CFS occurs commonly among women in the age group of 30 - 50 years. This syndrome may be triggered off by a viral illness that gets complicated by a dysfunctional immune response. This syndrome can creep upon you without your realizing it. It will sap you of your energy and vigor.

Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be difficult since there is no clear indicator or diagnostic test to identify this syndrome. Symptoms of CFS can be mistaken for hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia or Gulf War Illnesses. Some of the symptoms such as sleep problems and depression can be alleviated with medicines but the syndrome will not be cured. The symptoms may improve over time. It is not always possible to detect CFS easily. Often the symptoms of this condition resemble those of other disorders or infections. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome differs from routine fatigue in that the symptoms are strong and noticeable. Women are more susceptible to CFS, especially during the age bracket of 30 - 50 years. Some of the symptoms of CFS are:

  • Severe fatigue lasting for nearly 6 months
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Muscle or joint pains
  • Severe headache
  • Vague feelings of depression and tiredness
  • Fluctuations in appetite and weight

Battling Chronic fatigue syndrome involves lifestyle changes such as healthy fitness regimen and right diet. Sleep and stress management therapy can go a long way in alleviating some of the symptoms. Usage of L Cartinine supplements has shown to be effective in treating chronic fatigue. In some cases, anti-depressant medications may help ease symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia Gravis is an auto immune disease characterized by attack on the nerve-muscle junction. Myasthenia gravis involves weakness and fatigue of any group of voluntary muscles. This condition tends to worsen with activity and improves with rest. Muscles that are usually involved include those that control eyelid movement, facial expressions, swallowing and talking. Breakdown in the communication between muscles and nerves is caused by antibodies produced by the immune system. The production of these antibodies is believed to originate from the thymus gland.

Typical symptoms of MG include drooping eyelids, unstable gait or change in facial expressions. The patient suffering from Myasthenia gravis may experience fatigue on repetitive movements and muscle weakness in the limbs. There may be signs of double vision. Some patients suffer from slurred speech and difficulty in swallowing or speaking. In severe cases, neck muscles and muscles controlling breathing can be affected.

Often diagnosis of myasthenia gravis takes time since the symptoms are mistaken for those of other neurological disorders. Blood test to check for the presence of immune molecules or acetylcholine receptor antibodies aids in detecting any excessive levels of antibodies. The edrophonium test involves injection of edrophonium into the muscle to find out whether the cause for muscular weakness is MG. An EMG (electromyography) is used to diagnose myasthenia gravis by checking for impaired nerve-muscle transmission. Spirometry aids in assessing the respiratory function to check if the patient's respiratory muscles re affected.

Treatment for MG hinges on the patient's age and the muscles that are affected as well as severity of the muscle weakness. Myasthenia gravis can be controlled with medications such as immunosuppressive drugs and anticholinesterase agents. A surgical removal of the thymus gland helps in reducing symptoms in many patients suffering from Myasthenia Gravis. In severe cases of myasthenia gravis, Plasmapheresis is resorted to. Here, the blood of the patient is passed through a filter to remove some antibodies. Another form of therapy is to provide the patient with intravenous immune globulin to alter the response of the immune system.

Post traumatic stress disorder

Also called battle fatigue syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD can occur in a person after severe physical injury/abuse. This entails lasting consequences from some kind of a trauma - physical or mental. Trauma could mean anything from death of a loved one to natural disaster to physical hurt or abuse.

Most often people facing a trauma may experience fear, panic, shock, anger, nervousness and these conditions settle down on their own after sometime. However a person experiencing PTSD suffers persistent reactions. It may even appear as if the reactions are increasingly getting stronger. This was more commonly noticed in war veterans and hence was referred to as battle fatigue syndrome. This condition is also noticed in people who have experience physical or sexual abuse. About 5.2 million people across the world suffer this condition.

Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD depend upon the duration of the illness or trauma. It may vary from person to person and also depends upon the type of abuse. In general people have been classified into three categories depending on how they react and behave.

Reliving or re-experiencing: These people relive the trauma repeatedly, as though it has just happened. Reliving can happen through flashback, nightmares and hallucinations. They experience additional stress when certain triggers remind them of the entire trauma.

Avoiding: The person tries to avoid places, people or things that may have caused the trauma or remind them of it. Such people may cut off contact from their family and friends and would prefer spending time in isolation. They may feel completely detached and may also stop enjoying activities once they loved doing.

Increased arousal: The person may experience increased emotions, worsening inter-personal relations, irritability, sudden outbursts of anger, trouble staying focused and difficulty in concentration. A few physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, increased blood pressure and rapid breathing may show up.

Though there is no particular lab test or diagnosis for PTSD, it can be diagnosed by examining the patient and understanding the conditions that might have led to this. With no relevant physical complication, the patient may be referred to a mental healthcare professional like a psychiatrist or psychologist. These professional use specially designed tests to identify the level of stress and offer treatment accordingly. Treatment will depend upon the level of disorder and will include therapy and medications. Depending on the severity, treatment may include:

Psychotherapy: Therapy will guide the person to develop skills so as to manage the stress. These include cognitive behavior therapy, group therapy, psycho dynamic therapy, family therapy and exposure therapy. Depending on the intensity and requirement, therapy is chosen for the person.

Medications: Medications include antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Depending on the severity, drugs are prescribed.

Tags: #Chronic Fatigue Syndrome #Myasthenia Gravis #Post traumatic stress disorder
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 4, 2022