Chronic fatigue syndrome is NOT just in the mind‚ say scientists

16 August 2017 - 13:57 By Tanya Farber
Headaches are one of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Headaches are one of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Image: iStock

A medical breakthrough has put a smile on the tired faces of those with chronic fatigue syndrome‚ often told to simply “get it together‚ exercise and get therapy”.

Sufferers of the condition have much higher levels of a range of cytokines in their blood‚ according to new research.

Cytokines are produced by the immune system‚ and the researchers from Harvard University found that the higher the levels of some inflammatory cytokines‚ the more severe the symptoms.

Simply put‚ this means the link between the disease and inflammation is now set for further investigation.

This comes six years after another study published in The Lancet suggested that those with the condition — also known as ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) — could improve their lot with simple lifestyle tweaks and psychotherapy.

Symptoms of ME‚ according to online health resource Healthline‚ vary widely but generally include debilitating fatigue‚ muscle pain‚ headaches‚ poor concentration and joint pain.

The new study has found that there is a genuine biological cause for the condition yet 90% of sufferers go undiagnosed.

Chronic fatigue syndrome can turn a life of productive activity into one of dependency and desolation
Researcher Jose Montoya

“Chronic fatigue syndrome can turn a life of productive activity into one of dependency and desolation‚” said Jose Montoya‚ lead author of the study‚ published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Fellow researcher Mark Davis said: “There’s been a great deal of controversy and confusion surrounding ME/CFS — even whether it is an actual disease — but this new research provides a solid basis for a diagnostic blood test.”

A South African woman identified only as Melanie who shared her story on the ME/CFS Foundation of South Africa site‚ said: “ME has affected every area of my life. I hardly meet with friends and very seldom talk on the phone as I find it extremely exhausting.

“I cannot be in a relationship as there is no energy to be with anyone. I suffer from brain fog and headaches every day and almost all areas of my body ache. I battle to digest most foods. Any physical activity leaves me extremely exhausted so I have to pace myself constantly.” - TimesLIVE

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