Patient Care

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Most of us have heard of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but know little about it.

"This mysterious complex of symptoms was once the 'garbage pail' diagnosis. It was given to those patients that came in with vague symptoms and very little clinical evidence of illness after standard tests. Now, however, we are understanding the overall syndrome more clearly," says Jeffrey Bergin, DC, former dean of clinics at Lombard's National University of Health Sciences (NUHS). "Nowadays, we have a clearer picture of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and its treatment."

Warning Signs

According to the Center for Disease Control, a patient may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) if they:

  • Have severe chronic fatigue of six months or longer duration with other known medical conditions excluded by clinical diagnosis, and
  • Concurrently have four or more of the following symptoms for six months: substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, muscle pain, multi-joint pain without swelling or redness, headaches of a new type, pattern or severity, unrefreshing sleep, and post-exertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours.

For many people, CFS begins after a bout with a cold, bronchitis, mononucleosis, hepatitis or intestinal bug. Often sufferers say that their illness started during a period of high stress. In others, CFS develops more gradually, with no clear event triggering the onset.

Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

"Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is caused by several mechanisms," explains Dr. Bergin. "One is overwhelming delayed hypersensitivities to foods or other allergens that reduce immune responsiveness and lead to many of the symptoms of this syndrome. Also, we know that all individuals who suffer from CFS have been infected with Epstein-Barr virus. This virus never leaves the body and resides in the lymphocytes (white blood cells) and occasionally becomes active. Additionally, increased stress levels can lead to cortisol overproduction, which eventually depletes the adrenal glands. This can lead to overwhelming exhaustion."

CFS strikes mostly women, who are diagnosed two to four times as often as men. The CDC estimates that as many as 500,000 people in the United States have a CFS-like condition. People who suspect they may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome should consult a health professional. National University of Health Science's Lombard Health Center is qualified to assess your symptoms and develop a treatment plan.

Treatment Options

"Discovering the cause of a patient's CFS helps us develop an effective treatment plan," says Dr. Bergin. "There are many natural approaches to controlling the syndrome and giving the sufferer their life back. These include allergy testing to determine irritants, and herbal and nutritional supplementation to enhance the body's recovery and increase immunity. The individual should seek the counsel of a physician trained in natural medicine who understands the role of delayed hypersensitivity in the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patient. Here at NUHS clinic, we train our clinicians to look for these important clues."

For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or to schedule a CFS assessment, interested readers can contact an NUHS Whole Health Center.