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What is chronic fatigue syndrome and what causes it?


Chronic fatigue syndrome, known as CFS or ME, can be a confusing condition for many reasons. Defining CFS or ME

For a start, there is even controversy about the official name of it. CFS is often the term used by doctors, because the main symptom is usually fatigue, and it is chronic. However, the term myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is used by the World Health Organisation who classifies it as a disease of the nervous system (International Classification of Diseases, G93.3), and also in this International Consensus Criteria by the Journal of Internal Medicine. We’ll refer to it as CFS/ME.

The cause of CFS/ME

Much to the frustration of those with the condition, the cause or causes of CFS/ME have not been identified. In fact, the condition has defied a rational medical explanation for decades. In the 1980s, some medical authorities even doubted whether it was a genuine physical illness.

In 2009, scientists excitedly claimed they could have a breakthrough in determining the cause of CFS/ME, linking it to the XMRV virus. However, within two years it was shown that this was not the case.

There is no test to diagnose CFS/ME. The diagnosis is made in people who have a certain set of symptoms which vary in type and severity. CFS/ME is relatively common, and it is estimated to affect 10,000 people in the Republic of Ireland.


Treatment for CFS/ME

There is no medication that treats CFS/ME specifically. The treatment for those with the condition is as varied as the symptoms. For example, the NHS recommends cognitive behavioural therapy and graded exercise therapy. It’s also common for sufferers to explore complementary and holistic therapies.

Some factors are thought to make CFS/ME worse. These include stress, recurring viral or bacterial infections, bad diet and environmental pollution.

From my experience as a medical doctor and dentist, I usually ask CFS/ME sufferers to consider detoxification of the body.

If the patient has amalgam fillings, we do a mercury vapour test on the breath to determine how much mercury vapour is emitted. Based on this reading and discussion with the patient, we consider the removal of the fillings and the hazardous mercury in them.

If you suffer from CFS/ME, then a discussion with an understanding and open-minded physician can be a comforting experience in itself. Please give us a call for a consultation, we’re always happy to help.

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