A new era is dawning in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, says Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, nationally recognized authority on pain, and author of the book Pain Free 1-2-3! For years, patients have complained that their symptoms of overwhelming fatigue were casually dismissed by their doctors, or worse yet, attributed to a mental disorder.
"Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is a real disease, and it's serious," Dr. Teiltelbaum tells Newsmax Health. "It represents an energy crisis in the body where you essentially blow a fuse."
A committee representing the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has suggested a new name — Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease or SEID — be adopted to replace the term chronic fatigue syndrome, which they feel belittles the severity of the disease. They also suggested that doctors use five main symptoms to diagnose patients, since there are no medical tests to pinpoint it.
The committee named three fundamental symptoms: fatigue that has lasted for more than six months, fatigue that worsens after exertion, and being unable to sleep or sleep that is not refreshing. Patients must also have one of two other symptoms: either brain fog or orthostatic intolerance, which means that symptoms improve when lying down.
"CFS is much more than just being tired," says Dr. Teitelbaum. "It's associated with severe insomnia, brain fog, usually with pain, and the symptoms don't get better with vacation."
Labeling the condition a "disease" instead of a "syndrome" might help doctors to take the condition, which affects millions of Americans, more seriously. "The IOM has recognized that this is a real and devastating illness," says Dr. Teitelbaum. "This means that any doctor who says, 'I don't know what's wrong with you, so you're crazy,' has gone from being a nitwit to an unscientific nitwit.
"Doctors still tend to look at their patients as hypochondriacs," says Dr. Teitelbaum. "If you go to a doctor who is not familiar with the illness, they will do the wrong tests and misinterpret the tests done as being normal." Although there are no tests to diagnose CFS, tests are used to rule out other conditions that cause exhaustion.
The symptoms of CFS and fibromyalgia are very similar and often overlap, says Dr. Teitelbaum. The main difference between the two is that CFS is defined by overwhelming fatigue and the hallmark of fibromyalgia is chronic over-all body pain. New guidelines will increase the number of people diagnosed to more than 5 percent of the population.
If you have CFS or any form of chronic pain, you can use Dr. Teitelbaum's SHINE protocol to get well:
• Sleep. Get eight hours of sleep each night.
• Hormonal support. Low thyroid, adrenal estrogen and testosterone levels can all lead to chronic pain.
• Infection, impingement, and inflammation. Infection and inflammation are common causes of pain and can be dealt with using natural products such as fish oil and frankincense (boswellia).
• Nutrition support. A healthy diet with adequate vitamins and minerals is essential. Several studies have linked low levels of vitamin D with chronic pain.
• Exercise. Exercise should be matched to each person's capability.
"The majority of people who follow SHINE are pain-free in three months," he says.
Dr. Teitelbaum also recommends that people with CFS take ribose, the same nutrient used to combat fibromyalgia. "Studies show you'll increase your energy by 61 percent in three weeks and reduce your pain," says Dr. Teitelbaum. He recommends taking 5 grams of ribose powder mixed with water three times a day for three weeks, and then reducing the dosage to twice a day. He also recommends the vitamin powder Energy Revitalization System. "It replaces 35 pills a day."
Finally, don't let anyone, least of all your doctor, belittle your symptoms. "If your doctor says that CFS doesn't exist and the idea is crazy, just stand up, look them in the eye, give them a big hug, and say, 'Thank you for letting me know what a complete and utter fool you are,' then turn and walk out the door," says Dr. Teitelbaum. "This is 2015 and that behavior is not tolerable."
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