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Guide to Identifying and Managing the Triggers of Chronic Fatigue


medically reviewed by Dr Naveen Chandran

Dr Reshma N Babu

Updated on November 21, 2023

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a disabling, chronic neurological disorder that can adversely affect your day-to-day life. Even Though the exact cause of CFS is still unknown, various studies have shown a link between CFS and  Immune system dysfunction. In this enlightening guide, let us explore the multiple triggers of chronic fatigue syndrome and provide actionable strategies to mitigate their impact on your daily life.

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Unveiling the Common Chronic Fatigue Triggers - An Overview

Before exploring the common triggers of CFS, let's have a look at the symptoms of CFS. The joint effects of CFS on the body include:

  • Chronic extreme fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep disorders
  • Orthostatic intolerance (Inability to remain upright)
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight changes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Vision problems

Even though the exact cause of CFS remains unknown, experts have put forward possible reasons that are linked to the development of CFS, which include:

  • Infections
  • Exposure to certain toxins
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Side effects of medications
  • Psychological stress
  • Past trauma

So, what makes CFS a complicated disorder?

CFS is a chronic complex disorder that is difficult to diagnose, and no tests can precisely diagnose this condition.

Potential Triggers and Risk Factors of Chronic Fatigue: Exploring the Unexplored!

Potential Triggers and Risk Factors of chronic fatigue exploring the unexplored!.jpg

Viral Infections

  • In recent studies, certain viruses, like XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus), are shown to produce overactive immune responses in individuals who are affected by this virus.
  • These retroviruses also activate other viruses like Epstein-Barr (member of herpes family), adversely affecting your immune system functions.
  • Retroviral infections are a known cause of neurodegenerative disorders, paving the way for the development of CFS.

Stress and Emotional Factors

  • Chronic stress and emotional exhaustion can be a potential trigger for CFS.
  • Stress induced by professional and personal life can lead to this condition.
  • Financial and Family Stress: Raising young babies/children, unhappy married life, old parents with morbidity, and anxiety about the future can push you into living an unpleasant life with emotional baggage.
  • Yoga, Pranayama, breathing exercises, and meditation can help you reduce stress.
  • Finding your time for things you enjoy doing - Listening to your favourite music, dancing to the song you like, taking a brisk walk, etc. can bring many changes.

Sleep Disturbances

  • Deprivation from quality sleep can worsen the condition by causing mental clouding and even hallucinations when severe sleep disturbances occur.
  • Cutting screen time, having a light dinner at least 2-3 hours before hitting bed, massaging your foot with warm oils before bed, etc., can help you improve your sleep quality.

Lifestyle and Environmental Factors

Diet and Nutrition

  • A nutrient-deficient diet can trigger CFS. Therefore, your diet must ensure enough amounts of vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, omega-3, three fatty acids, and potassium.
  • An inflammatory-rich diet with fried foods, high-sugar foods and highly processed foods can trigger inflammation in your body.

What Can You Eat to Beat These Triggers?

Dietary modifications are significant in beating the triggers of CFS.So, what energy-boosting foods can you include in your daily diet?

  1. Vitamins: Leafy greens, root veggies, shellfish
  2. Magnesium: Dark leafy greens, figs, fish, avocados
  3. Vitamin D: Fatty fish, organ meats, wild mushrooms
  4. Omega-3: Fatty fish, flax and chia oil
  5. Iron: Fatty fish, organ meats
  6. Potassium: Bananas, sweet potatoes, cooked spinach, and apricots.

Physical Exertion and Overexertion

  • CFS can lead to a lower energy level, making it difficult for individuals to meet their day-to-day activities.
  • Physical exertion and overexertion can only trigger your CFS further.
  • Effectively managing your energy by knowing your limits, taking regular breaks, rejuvenating yourself with healthy refreshments, managing your stress with deep breathing exercises, and practising yoga/ meditation can help you manage your energy effectively.

Personalised Strategies to Address the Triggers: Developing a Holistic Approach

Personalised Strategies to Address the Triggers Developing a  holistic approach..jpg

Adapt these strategies to address the triggers of CFS effectively.

  • Switch to a nutrient-dense diet that ensures rich sources of vitamins and minerals.
  • Cut down on inflammatory foods and switch to a gut-friendly diet that can strike a balance between the essential bacteria.
  • Lifestyle modifications like improving sleep quality, practising medication, and regular exercise can help you bring step-by-step changes to your energy level.
  • Learning new skills and pursuing your hobbies can help you enhance your mood.
  • Spending time with your dear and near can help build a pleasant atmosphere around you.
  • Tracking your daily routine with the help of an activity diary can help you know your limits and set a plan for day-to-day activities, effectively using your energy.

To Conclude

Identifying and tracking down triggers of CFS can help us effectively manage our energy levels. Certain dietary modifications and lifestyle changes can help you improve energy levels when practised with meditation and other stress-relieving exercises.

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