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January 16, 2010 at 10:36 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Genes Linked To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) causes severe fatigue that is not alleviated by prolonged rest. It must last longer than six months to be considered chronic, and can be accompanied by muscle aches, joint pain and headaches, as well as some forms of depression and anxiety. Those with CFS have difficulty performing daily tasks which used to be easy, and for others are easy. They often experience memory problems and trouble sleeping. CFS affects up to one million Americans, and is as damaging as much as Multiple Sclerosis or heart disease. Up to one fourth of those with CFS are unemployed or receive disability support. While over 3,000 scientific studies have been published on the topic, the cause of CFS has not been determined. Some studies say it absolutely is not caused by a muscular problem, retroviral infection, an immune disease or psychiatric disorder, other studies may say otherwise. All that can be determined is that scientists and doctors really don't know much about the root causes of this ailment.

CFS and Genetics

Studies have shown that those with CFS have variants in the part of the brain that responds to stress. One study links symptoms of CFS including pain, memory function and fatigue to the genes that affect how our bodies deal with stress. This implies that those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome cannot brush off those stresses that others easily can. It also shows that CFS does not have a single, root cause, but is caused and influenced by a number of different factors.

What this Means for Those With CFS

While we still have no absolute answers, these studies can help scientists further their research in a more direct manner, and aid doctors in diagnosing chronic fatigue, as well as predicting its occurrence. For example, it's been found that women aged 40- 60 are much more likely to have CFS than men. The more we find out about chronic fatigue the easier it will be to diagnose and live with it. In the meantime, it's important to find a way to live with your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Work with your doctor to develop a plan for appropriate mild physical activity, diet and rest. Be sure to refrain from over exertion, but do try to work some physical activity into your day. Eat a well balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains for energy, and make sure to stay away from caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants and depressants. Focus on the things in your life that make you happy.


Photo Credit: Mark Cummins

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