It’s often called a mystery illness, but people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome experience real pain and extreme fatigue. Researchers are looking to help those tired of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated disease characterized by extreme fatigue that is not correlated to any medical condition.
The fatigue can get worse with any physical activity, but it does not get better with any type of rest.
The cause for this syndrome is unknown, but there are several theories that state it can be caused due to viral infections, immune system problems, hormonal imbalances or psychological stress.
Paula Bushman loves working in her garden. But the former marine and mom of three suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and some days she can’t get off the couch.
“It’s a 500 pound gorilla on your back,” described Bushman.
Chronic fatigue syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. Researchers say it could be triggered by a bad virus or in Bushman’s case possibly toxic water she was exposed to while stationed at Camp LeJeune. At first, doctors told her it was in her head.
“We think you need to go to a psychiatrist, and I said ‘what you think I’m crazy?,’” Bushman says.
It wasn’t until Bushman found Nancy Klimas, M.D., director of Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that she finally got some answers.
“It’s certainly not some abhorrent depression or psychological thing; it's a biological condition,” explained Dr. Klimas.
The illness involves inflammation of the brain.
Dr. Klimas detailed, “It affects how you think. It affects your cognition. It affects your hormone regulation.”
Now Dr. Klimas and her team are on the verge of a breakthrough identifying a specific gene which will allow them to predict the best medications.
For now, Dr. Klimas put Bushman on a regimen of vitamins and supplements to boost her immune system.
She feels better then she has in years.
Bushman says, “I wasn't always in bed. I could do dishes, simple things.”
Doctors say it’s important for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome to pace themselves. The first clinical trial is expected next spring.