Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (cont.)

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What is the treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome?

There is no known cure for chronic fatigue syndrome; treatment is based on those therapies that reduce the symptoms. In general, patients who are diagnosed within the first 2 years of symptoms respond better to symptomatic treatment than those patients diagnosed after 2 or more years of having the disease. Treatments to reduce symptoms are individualized for each patient as no single therapy helps all CFS patients.

Drug therapies (bupropion [Wellbutrin], sertraline [Zoloft], and other antidepressant drugs) are used to treat symptoms of sleep, pain, and psychological problems. Other therapies that are used include stress reduction and lifestyle changes (which may include diet and exercise reduction). Some investigators suggest diet and nutrition play a role and recommend vitamin D, B6, B12, lysine, and glutathione supplements while others do not. Some clinicians may prescribe antibiotics such as metronidazole (Flagyl) or amoxicillin and clavulanic acid (Augmentin) if the patient has high levels of antibodies that react with C. pneumoniae or other organisms. Other treatments that claim some positive effects on CFS symptoms include holistic treatments such as bananas, maca (a plant root from Peru), pau d'arco (herb from the bark of the taheebo tree in Central America), and spirulina (plankton).

Acupuncture and fluorescent-light treatments also are claimed to help CFS patients. Most of these other therapies have not been well studied by experts who treat CFS.

Most clinicians agree that patients with CFS need a team approach to their illness. The most disruptive symptoms should be addressed first. In general the therapy will be a combination of psychological counseling (to help with the day-to-day burden CFS imposes on the patient's life) and mild, guided exercise (a physical therapist might be able to help; care should be taken to not be too strenuous). Cognitive-behavioral therapy seems to work well with pediatric-aged patients.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/7/2013

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Coping Question: How do you cope with chronic fatigue syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Symptoms Question: What symptoms and signs did you experience with your chronic fatigue syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Diagnosis Question: Please describe the events that led to a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Coexisting Diseases Question: In addition to CFS, do you have another disease or condition? Please share your story.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment have you had for chronic fatigue syndrome? What medications do you take?

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