Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Treatment

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What kinds of treatment have you had for chronic fatigue syndrome? What medications do you take?

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What is the treatment for CFS/SEID?

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

Drug therapies (bupropion [Wellbutrin], sertraline [Zoloft], and other antidepressant drugs) are used to treat symptoms of sleep, pain, and psychological problems. Some have used Adderall (off-label use). 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.

Return to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)

See what others are saying

Comment from: tmhandamh, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 18

I have been ill with chronic fatigue syndrome since February. The doctors insist that it's viral and I just need to wait it out. The latest visit took me out of work for a week so I could just rest. I still don't feel 100 percent. The fuzzy brain, joint pain, muscle pain, and all the rest are what has been bothering me all year. I have had a couple of bad falls and I'm not recovering easily. My feet are nearly always purple and cold. My stomach is always sore too. I had gastric bypass a little over a year ago, so I wasn't thinking anything of my symptoms. I have taken each item by itself until the fatigue has gotten so bad. I'm hoping I get a definitive diagnosis at my next appointment so I can find real help to get back into a remission state.

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Comment from: Very tired!!, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: August 11

No one knows how to treat chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). We can send a man to the moon but CFS nothing. I used to take Provigil, it worked for a while, but it is very difficult to get a class A narcotic. Finally I stopped taking it. All of sudden the CFS stared to get less frequent. This was happening for several years, however, the symptoms have started, only not as severe. Thank goodness. This is really starting to get to me physical and mentally.

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