riverhills neuroscience logo

What Causes Chronic Fatigue?

Oct 06, 2023
What Causes Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition that affects millions in the U.S., but is not entirely understood. It features a number of seemingly unrelated symptoms, and can be difficult to treat. But what causes it?

Whether you’re always on the go and staying active or you just hang out at home, you’re still burning calories and using energy to perform tasks during the day. And of course, we all get tired and need to rest, but if you’re dealing with feeling listless, exhausted, or otherwise unusually tired, you may be struggling with fatigue. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including lifestyle factors, health conditions, and mental health issues, and often you can make changes or get treatment and things go back to normal.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME/CFS, is a complicated term for people dealing with a number of different symptoms that cause extreme tiredness and other problems that aren’t well understood, but affect millions of Americans. If you’re dealing with feeling tired all the time and think you may have this complex condition, let’s find out by examining what it is, its symptoms, causes, and risk factors, and what options are out there for treatment.

With offices in Norwood, Anderson, and Westside, Ohio, as well as Crestview Hills, Kentucky, if you’re struggling with severe fatigue or other issues related to ME/CFS, the extensive team of physicians at Riverhills Neuroscience can help.

Defining chronic fatigue

This complex disorder, also known as systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) or chronic fatigue syndrome, is a form of exhaustion that lasts at least six months and can affect the energy you have to do even the most basic things. Getting rest doesn’t help to reduce the amount of tiredness you experience during the day and only worsens with attempts at daily activity. Estimations indicate up to 2 million people struggle with this condition, though most of them haven’t been officially diagnosed.

In addition to severe fatigue, people with ME/CFS also experience sleeping difficulties, headaches, joint pain, muscle aches, and cognitive problems like difficulty focusing and remembering. It can also lead to vision problems, night sweats, swollen lymph nodes, irritable bowels, mood swings, dizziness, and tingling or numbness in your hands, feet, or face.

Causes and risk factors

Research is still ongoing in regards to what actually causes this syndrome, but the current theories on causes include

  • Genetic factors: This illness has been known to run in families, increasing the chances of inheriting it from your parents.
  • Infections: People have been known to develop this problem after recovering from a viral or bacterial infection.
  • Trauma: Physical or emotional trauma has caused enough stress that some people have reported developing the syndrome after dealing with it.
  • Abnormalities in fueling the body: Fats and sugars are important to fueling the body, and people with problems converting these chemicals to energy may also be affected.

Other possible factors that increase your risks include age (young to middle age adults are most likely to deal with it), sex (women are more likely to deal with it than men), and other complex medical conditions like fibromyalgia or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).

Treatment options

Since a lot about this syndrome isn’t fully understood, treatment options are mainly to reduce the various symptoms, and can target the areas of most concern, finding new ways to manage various activities, and alleviating any pain this condition may bring. We can help you find ways to pace activities to avoid exhausting yourself, establish regular sleep routines, and use a combination of therapies (massage, water, and heat), stretching, and toning to help reduce pain. Medications can be employed if the non-drug therapies are not enough. Changes in diet, exercise, using nutritional supplements, and learning relaxation techniques can also help manage this problem.

Whatever the cause of your chronic fatigue syndrome, we’re dedicated to finding ways to help you. Call (513) 612-1111 to make an appointment with the team at Riverhills Neuroscience today to get the treatment to increase your energy and get your life back.