Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia

Closeup of a lonely senior man lost in thought , looking awayChronic fatigue is a debated and often ignored medical condition. As it sometimes was the case with postpartum depression, chronic fatigue is often regarded with disdain as something that will eventually go away if the patient will just be reasonable. Persistent patients are often prescribed antidepressants or sleep aids. Clinical depression is rarely the cause of CF/FM, rather it is the result of being exhausted and ignored when explaining one’s symptoms.  Some clinics/clinicians have used amphetamines, prednisone, vitamin B-12 as well as hormones in various combinations but with little long- term success.

Chronic fatigue, and its later manifestation fibromyalgia, presents  symptoms similar to those of mononucleosis; yet few doctors bother to test patients for the causative viruses, such as Epstein-Barr (EBV), CMV, CSB, and HSV-6.  Most patients with CF/FM, but not all of them,  have a history of mononucleosis.  In pre-pubescent patients mononucleosis is frequently viewed and interpreted as a severe infection, flue-like in its symptoms yet lasting a few weeks and is not checked for the above viruses.

CF/FM is a complex set of physiological responses which may vary from patient to patient; they may include metabolic and/or hormonal imbalances, an immunological (B-cell/T-cell) imbalance, and parasitic or other microbial infections. However, this illness usually has at its center a persistent viral infection, often a remnant of an earlier mononucleosis episode. Treatment of the peripheral symptoms without regard to the viral component is usually ineffective or offers only a short time reprise from CF/FM.

Viral screening by blood procedures must measure the viral load or viral titer; it must measure how many active viral particles are in the blood.  Viral exposure (antigen) tests do not measure the current status but rather some past event. Many people have been exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus, but only a few display symptoms of CF/FM. Those who do almost always have high levels of circulating virus particles. While current scientific thinking dictates that a virus can never be truly eradicated from the human body, this does not imply that the viral load cannot be reduced to levels which do not produce the symptoms of CF/FM.

Here at the Immune Recovery Centers of America we believe that to successfully treat CF/FM one must evaluate all of the potential determinants and establish which ones are truly contributing to the cause and which are merely results of the chronic disease. This does not mean that some can be disregarded and will automatically resolve themselves over time after treating the causes. While this may be true, patients have already waited too long. Therefore, treating, for example, a thyroid imbalance to achieve a faster return to good health l is better than waiting for that component to auto-correct. The key is not to continue treating a condition after it has corrected, but to monitor and treat the true causes of CF/FM when they appear to be returning.

Our centers offer a diagnostic and treatment program for CF/FM which attempts to determine and treat the underlying causes, moderate the non-causative symptoms, and design a maintenance program to keep these symptoms under control. We also try to establish an “early warning system,” which allows the patient to be aware of that a correction is needed before the symptoms return.