What causes chronic fatigue syndrome? Scientists are unsure as to the cause of debilitating pain, exhaustion, and depression among patients of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), an autoimmune disorder often linked with fibromyalgia, another condition which causes “phantom” pain symptoms where no injuries or noticeable inflammation occur.
While scientists continue to investigate chronic fatigue syndrome causes and treatment, most agree that the solution lies in determining multiple factors that produce symptoms of CFS, including comorbid conditions like fibromyalgia and vitamin B12 deficiency.
Causes of chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is classified as an autoimmune disorder. That means that an unknown trigger causes the immune system to malfunction and turn on your body’s vital organs. With chronic fatigue syndrome, an imbalance of T cells leads to buildup of cytokines, proteins which trigger inflammatory responses and ultimately cause cell damage in patients of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Scientists have also noted a pattern of chronic fatigue syndrome cases following viral infections, such as the Epstein-Barr virus and the human herpes virus 6 (HV-6), and hope to confirm the cause of CFS as a post-viral syndrome.
Abnormalities of the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis may be among various causes of chronic fatigue syndrome, according to some researchers. Many people with CFS have low levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands. Other hormonal imbalances linked with chronic fatigue syndrome involve neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
Genes have also been recognized as a cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, or at least a genetic predisposition to it.
There are several psychological and emotional factors of chronic fatigue syndrome, leading scientists to speculate if depression or anxiety may cause CFS.
Chronic fatigue treatments
There is no “cure” for CFS, as we are yet unable to determine what causes chronic fatigue syndrome. However, many doctors can recommend certain treatments to relieve the many ailments associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
For more energy, experts advise light exercise, dietary changes, caffeine restriction, and a supplement regimen that includes vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin B12, which supports nerve functioning, maintains brain health, and improves inflammatory responses.
Physical therapy is also beneficial for improving range of movement and strengthening the muscles.
For depression or nervousness, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants, which have been noted to improve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Vitamin deficiencies are common among patients of chronic fatigue syndrome; researchers believe that conditions like vitamin B12 deficiency occur as a result of CFS, but are not a cause of the illness.
Orthomolecular medicine, which treats vitamin deficiencies, has benefited many sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome. Orthomolecular medicine consists of prescribing large doses of the following nutrients under the supervision of a doctor:
- Vitamin B12
- Folic acid
- Vitamin C
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Omega 6 fatty acid GLA
It’s important to note that for many sufferers of CFS, vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed in the digestive system, and must be inserted manually into the bloodstream, via vitamin B12 shots, sublingual vitamin B12, or various other methods of over-the-counter (OT C) vitamin B12 supplementation.