Living With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

by Stephanie Brail

When you first find out you have chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, you may be overwhelmed and confused with how to adjust your life to deal with your illness. Even after some time, it's easy to feel frustrated and alone.

Adjust Your Lifestyle
Depending on the severity of your CFS, you may need to make radical adjustments in your life. This may include leaving a full-time job to work part-time or from home. It may also mean a reduction in income and an increase in medical expenses. Be gentle with yourself. Don't expect to do it all and be it all.

How you craft a lifestyle to support your health will be individual. Here are some suggested lifestyle adjustments:

Find a job with flexible hours. Being able to take a nap in the middle of the day may be crucial to your health. Sleeping in after a night of insomnia may not mesh with a strict boss who expects employees to appear at 8 a.m. sharp, no exceptions.

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

by Stephanie Brail

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is more than just fatigue. To be fully diagnosed with CFS, a patient must exhibit symptoms that extend beyond just chronic tiredness.

While it's still uncertain whether chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are two manifestations of the same illness, many of the symptoms listed below are common to both.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

To follow are the main symptoms of CFS. These must be present for at least six months for a diagnosis. They usually apply to fibromyalgia patients as well:

  • Fatigue (that is not explained by another physical problem)
  • Insomnia/unrefreshing sleep
  • Memory problems and poor concentration, also known as "brain fog"
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat and other flu-like symptoms
  • Post-exertional malaise following exercise or other exertion

Possible Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

by Stephanie Brail

It is a medical mystery worthy of House, M.D. - finding the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia. Researchers have been stumped for decades. Here are some potential culprits:

1. Viral or Bacterial Infection

For a long time, chronic fatigue syndrome was often called "Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus Sydrome" due to the elevated levels of Epstein-Barr antibodies in many CFS patients. While the specific Epstein-Barr theory has fallen somewhat to the wayside, researchers are still looking into the roles viruses and other infections may play in the development of CFS and fibromyalgia. Current thinking seems to lean towards the idea of an infection serving as a trigger for the disease in conjunction with other factors, but not necessarily being the sole cause.

2. Sleep Disorders

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Getting Properly Diagnosed

by Stephanie Brail

One of the most frustrating aspects of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or fibromyalgia is getting a firm diagnosis. While the outlook is better for patients these days, for many years complaints and symptoms were dismissed by some doctors as psychosomatic or female hysteria, and that still happens today. This is because many doctors are still uninformed about these illnesses. And, since the majority of sufferers of both illnesses are women, some patient advocates have speculated that female patients aren't taken as seriously by their doctors.

What is Fibromyalgia?

by Stephanie Brail

Fibromyalgia is a disease that involves chronic pain as well as chronic fatigue. There's a reason that fibromyalgia is often lumped in with chronic fatigue syndrome: It's because the two may be different aspects of the same disease. Even if that ends up being not the case, many patients with fibromyalgia also seem to be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Both syndromes have no known cause, both affect women more than men, and both include debilitating fatigue as a main symptom. Thus, the two are inextricably linked.

Fibromyalgia has been around since the 1800s and has been known as muscular rheumatism as well as fibrositis, chronic muscle pain syndrome, and tension myalgias.