Chronic Fatigue Symptoms

Coping with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

If you live with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), you’re no stranger to unrelenting symptoms, such as brain fog, headaches, muscle pain, and sore throats. You might go to bed tired and wake up tired. Extreme exhaustion can impact every aspect of your life from working to exercising to socializing. 

Friends and family might not understand your condition. Even a healthcare provider may not fully recognize your CFS symptoms or conclude that you are simply depressed.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated illness because there are no blood tests or lab examinations to diagnose this condition. However, the millions of people who suffer from this condition worldwide can attest to its realness.

Chronic Fatigue Symptoms

According to Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of CFS may include some or many of the following:

Chronic Fatigue
  • Persistent or excessive fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate or loss of memory
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Frequent headache
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise

Seeing a doctor is essential if you experience these chronic fatigue symptoms or any other sleep issues. Your inability to achieve healthy, rejuvenating sleep may be indicative of other health issues that need medical attention.

Click to learn more about symptoms and diagnosing CFS >>

There is no cure for this complex disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fact that you can’t cure CFS isn’t an excuse to throw your hands in the air and accept a life filled with chronic pain and tiredness. Quite the opposite, there are ways to cope with chronic fatigue syndrome and live a relatively active life.

How to Choose a Physician

Not all healthcare providers have in-depth knowledge and experience treating chronic fatigue syndrome. As a result, some may even minimize the physical effects and emotional frustrations of CFS. Therefore, do your research and find a doctor who acknowledges and understands CFS - and has treated patients with the condition. 

Fight Depression

There is a link between chronic fatigue syndrome and depression. Understand, however, depression doesn’t necessarily cause or trigger symptoms associated with CFS. Symptoms of depression might include feelings of hopelessness, loss of appetite, inability to control negative thoughts, physical pain, insomnia, sadness, or loss of interest in activities.

Addressing the depression and improving your mental state can gradually improve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. As your excitement for life returns, so does your energy level. Ask your doctor about appropriate treatments and activities to help fight depression and ease fatigue symptoms.

Avoid Caffeine

Drinking coffee, teas, and sodas throughout the day might give your body and mind a jolt and keep you alert. But, this effect is only temporary, and too much caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can affect your ability to sleep at night and increase your chronic fatigue symptoms.

Develop a Sleep Schedule

Plan for at least eight hours of sleep each night. The less sleep you receive, the more tired you’ll feel. Give yourself a bedtime and wake up at the same time each day. Avoid long naps during the day, which might hinder your ability to sleep soundly at night. Keep naps short – between 20 and 60 minutes.

Sleep Environment

A comfortable, relaxing sleep environment contributes to a good night’s rest. Find a comfortable mattress and purchase pillows that support your neck. Adjust the temperature before going to bed and remove any distractions from the bedroom, such as a television, computer, and radio.

Keep the curtains closed to block out lights and wear ear plugs to silence surrounding noise. If you can’t sleep in a quiet room, use a sound machine and fall asleep to the sound of crickets chirping or rainfall.

Control Emotional Stress

Stress and anxiety can complicate chronic fatigue symptoms. Identify situations in your life that trigger emotional stress or anxiety. Do you have a stressful job? Are you taking on too many responsibilities? Do you live a hectic, busy life? Learn how to say no and practice balance.

Take Breaks

Pacing yourself is key to coping with chronic fatigue syndrome. You can still enjoy your life and participate in your favorite activities -- but know your limits. Take a 10 to 15 minute break every couple hours. Lie down, close your eyes, and relax your body and mind.

Get Moving

Chronic fatigue syndrome affects your desire to exercise. Understandably, aerobics or jogging is likely the last thing on your mind when you’re exhausted and experiencing physical pain. There’s a connection between pain and exercise, and inactivity contributes to aches, pains, and tiredness. The more you move, the better you’ll feel. Start slow and enjoy a short walk each day. Go for a swim. Do Pilates. Take a bike ride. Gradually increase the intensity of your exercise, but don’t overdo it.

Improve Eating Habits

Constantly munching on junk foods and sugary foods can decrease your energy level and complicate chronic fatigue syndrome. Maintain a balanced diet and consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, and good carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, and rice. Eat four to six small meals a day to keep your blood sugar stable. Don’t skip meals.

Support Groups

Support groups aren’t a platform to complain and whine about your condition. They are an outlet to connect with other sufferers and share tips on how to manage symptoms of CFS. Check online for support groups in your community or ask your doctor for recommendations. Hospitals, schools, and community centers typically hold support groups, as well as online communities. 

This article on chronic fatigue symptoms and coping with CFS was written by Valencia Higuera, a health writer from Chesapeake, Virginia. 

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