Scientists on the search for what could be the cause of a complex disorder called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) may have found clues in the way some people’s immunity actively respond to an attack on their health.


Not As Simple As Just Being Lazy

CFS, a serious illness characterised by prolonged physical and mental tiredness, is believed to affect about 17 million people across the globe. People who suffer from CFS often find themselves so tired they are bound in bed and unable to perform basic daily tasks like bathing, eating or cleaning.

The scientists used interferon alpha, a kind of drug, to create a CFS model and observed that subjects whose immune response to the test was overactive or exaggerated stood a greater chance of developing serious fatigue.
According to Alice Russell who led the research at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), the research shows for the first time that people who are susceptible to developing illnesses similar to CFS have a hyperactive immune response, both before and after their immune systems have been challenged by a stimulus.


The Research

As a treatment for Hepatitis C infection, interferon alpha activates the human body’s immune system just like a potent infection. Many patients on an interferon alpha treatment experience high levels of fatigue; some patients continued to experience chronic fatigue for several months even after stopping the use of the drug.

Russell and her team, using this knowledge, gave 55 patients the interferon alpha treatment and measured their fatigue levels along with immune system markers before, during and after the process. Their results showed that out of the 55 patients, 18 developed a CFS-like syndrome. These 18 sufferers had immune systems that were hyperactive before the treatment and unusually high immune response during treatment.
The results thus suggest that people with hyperactive immune responses to triggers may be at greater risk of CFS.


Effects Of Fatigue On You

Fatigue, being able to affect anyone young or old, male or female, is a feeling of constant and prolonged tiredness or weakness. Fatigue can manifest in physical and mental forms and can even be both at the same time. It can lead to abnormal weight gain or loss, deteriorating skin conditions like dry skin, thin skin and formation of wrinkles, hair loss and others. A person’s fatigue level is affected by personal lifestyles, social and psychological well-being, and can be mitigated or worsened by other factors like diet and environment.

While some may regard fatigue as a general sense of tiredness, they are different in nature although fatigue can involve feeling tired or sleepy. Being tired is usually easily resolved with adequate rest and sleep, being more of a physical condition. Fatigue, however, can cause psychological effects not easily resolved with sleep alone.


Symptoms Of Fatigue

  • Persistent feeling of tiredness or sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Feelings of light-headedness or dizziness
  • Sore muscles and/or aching joints
  • Malaise/muscle weakness
  • Inability to focus and slow response
  • Impaired ability to make decision or judgement
  • Negative moods like increased irritability, feeling depressed
  • Unusual loss of appetite or increased appetite
  • Weaker immune system
  • Impaired memory
  • Hallucinations


Fighting Fatigue

Suffering from fatigue is no trivial matter. A person experiencing fatigue can easily go into a downward spiral of consequences. You do not have to resign to a life of malaise and demotivation. Below are some ways you can improve your well-being.

Eat Often

No, not telling to overeat or eat carelessly, but a reminder to not deprive your body of the much-needed energy to keep up your day’s activity. Make sure to eat balanced meals regularly and consume healthy snacks every 3 to 4 hours. Avoid large meals that can send you into a ‘food coma’.

You Like To Move It, Move It

Exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but a little price paid here can reap great rewards. Having regular exercises increases hormones that make you feel happier and more energetic. Exercises can help you relieve the stresses that may be causing your fatigue. Start with an easy 15-minute walk in the park to fire up your engines. Build up your regime gradually according to your comfort level.

Beauty Sleep For Beautiful Soul

This is pretty ‘duh’ but we still got to say it. Some of you don’t seem to hear this often enough. Suffering from sleep debt can also load stresses on our physical and mental aspects, worsening any existing fatigue. Having adequate sleep does not just recharges our battery but also helps our body regulate our hormone balance, improve psychological and emotional health.

Say ‘No’ To Stress

Stress is like that background app that overheats your phone and drains your batteries mysteriously; in the same way, it loads on your physical and mental well-being insidiously if you do not ‘force-stop’ the ‘app’. Go easy on your work/school wherever and whenever you can, take breaks at pitstops throughout the day (don’t overdo it though), engage in social activities, unleash it at sports and workouts, or tune in to your favourite music mix.