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August 19, 2010 at 9:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Markers of Immune Activation in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating disease, often made worse by physical, emotional and mental stress. Fatigue can relegate CFS patients to complete bed rest, often without subsequent improvement. Because of the extreme fatigue experienced by these CFS patients, their activity level is significantly reduced. Various symptoms are reported with CFS, including total body weakness, loss of or impaired memory, insomnia, muscle pain and other patient-specific symptoms. The worse part about this disease, however, may be the fact that it is such an enigma. There is no test that can be taken to determine CFS because, to date, there have been no significant causes found that correlate with the onset of this disease.

Determining CFS in Patients

Because CFS mimics a variety of other diseases, those other diseases must be eliminated as possibilities before a diagnosis of CFS is determined. This takes time, persistence and determination on the part of the physician, and much patience on the part of the patient. CFS does not exhibit any outward physical signs, and because CFS is non-discriminatory, all ages, genders, ethnicities and socioeconomic groups can become ill with CFS symptoms. Since 1980, when CFS was first reported, researchers and physicians alike have been scrambling for information that might lead them toward CFS markers. So far, only one real marker has been determined, and even that one is still up for discussion.

Immune System Impairment

Some researchers support findings that immune system impairment can both cause the onset of CFS and continue to worsen the symptoms. Others don't feel that there is enough information to substantiate those findings as of yet. What we do know is that in some cases, an impaired immune system does seem to be a part of the problem, and that immune systems appear to be impaired due to one or more infectious agents. Many CFS patients have elevated titers (a measurement of antibodies) to viruses such as Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus and Human Herpes Virus 6. According to clinical research conducted by Michael E. Rosenbaum, MD, Aristo Voidani, PhD, Murray Susser, MD and Cynthius A. Watson, MD, more and more evidence points to a stressful life filled with overwork, lack of sleep and poor diet at the onset of CFS. When this type of lifestyle is kept up for at least six months, the body is extremely compromised. What follows are flu-like symptoms, weakness and tremendous fatigue.

Some Possible Causes of CFS

Some researchers are leaning toward a few conditions that, if converged on the same individual at the same time, might cause CFS. The conditions include genetics, abnormalities in the brain, an over-reactive immune system, viral and other infectious diseases, and emotional and psychiatric conditions or disorders. Though a 100 percent positive result for what causes CFS does not yet exist, we do know that stress, poor nutrition and lack of sleep are precursors to a weakened immune system, and thus, many diseases. The best policy is to eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. Once you are stress-free, you may find that sleep comes easier, food becomes more enjoyable, and fatigue is minimized.


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