Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) shares many similarities with FMS. Several studies have suggested that they are the same illness. One study comparing 50 CFS patients with 50 FMS patients showed the following symptoms to be the same for both groups: low-grade fever (28%), swollen lymph nodes (33%), rash (47%), cough (40%), and recurrent sore throat (54%). Another study comparing CFS patients with FMS patients showed that brain wave patterns, tender points, pain, and fatigue were virtually identical in both groups.
A 1997 study by Allen N. Tyler, MD, ND, DC, muddies the water even further. Ten patients, all of whom met the ACR criteria for FMS, were selected at random for blood testing. They were tested for influenza type-B antibodies, and three of the ten tested positive. Another randomly selected group of ten FMS patients (meeting all the ACR criteria) were tested for antibodies to influenza type-A. Nine of them tested positive.
Symptoms of CFS include-
recurrent sore throat
painful lymph nodes
migratory joint pain
prolonged fatigue after exercise
neurological or psychological complaints, such as:
sensitivity to bright light
inability to concentrate
Due to weakened immunity, individuals with chronic fatigue have terrible problems with energy as well as recurring bouts with the flu, colds, sinusitis, and other immune problems. As with so many complex chronic illnesses, CFS may be aggravated by a wide variety of environmental and physiological challenges. Food allergies, environmental sensitivities (odors), heavy metal toxicity (mercury, aluminum, etc.), yeast overgrowth, parasites, and vitamin/mineral deficiencies can all contribute to CFS.
All of us have been exposed to mono or the Epstein-Barr virus (or other viruses) at one time or another (usually as teenagers), but our bodies are usually strong enough to overcome the exposure. We develop immunity to the virus. We carry the virus around inside of us until we die. Normally, this dormant virus never causes any more problems. It is kept in check by a healthy immune system.
Individuals with CFS aren’t able to squelch the normally dormant virus (or other bug), and it begins to raise its ugly head once again. Individuals with CFS may feel like they are walking around with the “flu from hell.” They have all the symptoms of a very bad case of the flu. But unlike most cases of the flu, CFS doesn’t disappear after one or two weeks.
HOW TO QUICKLY DISTINGUISH BETWEEN FMS AND CFS
A positive EBV panel is a clear indicator that someone has CFS. However, you don’t need a blood test to diagnose CFS. If you have chronic fatigue (hard to get out of bed each day), achy diffuse pain, chronic sore throats, and a lowered immune function (chronic infections), then you either have CFS or you’re at high risk of developing it.
The CFS patient usually has chronic infections (sinusitis, upper respiratory, urinary tract infections colds, flu, etc.) and is sick several times a year. He or she gets at least two bad infections a year. They will usually have chronic or intermittent sore throats, swollen lymph nodes, and periodic fevers. They usually ache all over. FMS patients may ache all over as well, but they usually have specific areas (neck, low back, etc.) that are the most troublesome.
Many CFS patients will also have a sluggish liver (more likely than in those with FMS). Clues that would lead you to suspect a sluggish liver include funny or negative reactions to medications (they take something to put them to sleep, and it wakes them up, or “a little goes a long way”); intolerance to caffeine, alcohol, or odors (the longer they’ve had the illness, the more sensitive they become to odors, perfumes, gasoline, smoke, cleaners, etc.); and a history of elevated liver enzymes on past blood work. Of course, anyone with hepatitis or fatty liver has a sluggish liver. Long-term prescription-medication therapies can also create a sluggish liver.
CFS AND LIVER DYSFUNCTION
CFS patients are more likely than FMS patients to have a sluggish liver. Clues that would lead you to suspect you may have a sluggish liver include:
chemical sensitivities (see below)
funny or negative reactions to medications (you take something to put you to sleep but it wakes you up, or a little goes a long way)
intolerance of caffeine
intolerance of alcohol
intolerance of odors (the longer patients have had the illness, the more sensitive they become to odors, perfumes, gasoline, smoke, cleaners, etc.)
a history of elevated liver enzymes on past blood work.
CFS patients may have severe chemical sensitivities and may not be able to tolerate nutritional supplements. They may have allergic reactions to even the purest multivitamins. This complicates things. It is best to start slow, especially with individuals who have severe chemical sensitivities.
Individuals with fibromyalgia have a lot of similar symptoms of CFS but in general their immune system is not compromised-they don’t get chronic sore throats, and infections. A person can be a true fibromyalgia patient-poor sleep, chronic pain, etc. but intact immune function or a true CFS patient fatigue, achy pain, and KEY poor immune function. However patients can share symptoms of both of these illnesses and have both.
You can read more about fibromyalgia and CFS on my website www.treatingandbeating.com