By Sivarama Prasad Vinjamury, MD (Ayurveda), MAOM, Betsy B.Singh, PhD / Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disorder characterized by sudden onset of severe unexplained fatigue, lasting 6 months or more. Associated symptoms include impairment of neurocognitive function, non-refreshing sleep, headache, arthralgias, postexertional malaise, muscle aches, and recurrent sore throat.
Approximately 0.2% to 0.7% of the population in Western countries is affected. It affects over 800,000 Americans of all ages, races, socioeconomic groups, and genders. Chronic fatigue Syndrome is estimated to cost $9.1 billion in lost productivity annually in the United States.
The etiology and pathophysiology of CFS is still unknown, but it is known to be heterogeneous and multicausal. Major causes of CFS, include infection,6 immune dysregulation, dysautonomia, neuroen-docrine dysfunction, and genetic disorders.
A diagnosis of CFS cannot be made on single measurements of immune, endocrine, cardiovascular, or autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Data suggest that people with CFS manifest changes in immune responses that fall outside normative ranges, but current research does not provide definitive evidence on whether these immune abnormalities are a cause or result of the illness. Therefore, it is still a condition of exclusion, and the diagnosis is made with a thorough history and clinical exam.
In this case study, as published in Alternative Therapies, patient, a 39-year-old, female, software technical support specialist, presented with predominant symptoms of fatigue, which had been present for the past 3 years. Her other symptoms included non-refreshing sleep, tiredness, neck pain, bloating, loss of short-term memory, and irritation of the throat and associated hoarseness.
Her symptoms exacerbated with minimal physical stress and did not improve after rest; instead, she observed that her symptoms were interfering more with her activities of daily living and personal life. Her medical history revealed that she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 7 years ago and was “euthyroid” with Levothroid 50 mg once a day. No other significant past medical history was reported. Her recent bloodwork was within normal limits. Her daily routine included moderate exercise, yoga, and Indian classical dance 2 hours per week. The patient stated that she had healthy eating habits, but she had abdominal bloating and discomfort. She reported tremendous psychological stress both at work and at home.