Gallbladder Disease Symptoms and Treatment

Irritable Bowel SyndromeDo you have a stomachache, feel nauseated, and have you experienced intestinal flu symptoms that just won’t disappear? Sharp pain on your right side? Bloating, gas and general fatigue? You might have gallstones or gallbladder inflammation.  Check out this article for more information about gallstones, gallbladder disease and what causes it.

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Acidic or Alkaline – What Is pH Maintenance and Why Should It Matter?

 What is Potential Hydrogen or pH?

There is a lot of information regarding bodily health in terms of how acidic or how alkaline our bodies are. Firstly, pH stands for ‘potential hydrogen’ and it gets its name from the way solutions on the pH scale are tested. Eating appleThe pH scale tests show a degree of concentration of hydrogen ions in a substance or solution and this degree results in a rating between 0-14 with 0 being the most acidic substances (battery acid, sulphuric acid) and 14 being the most alkaline substances (calcium, bleach). One thing to note is that the scale is logarithmic; meaning each distance between numbers is to the power of 10. So why is it important to understand the pH scale and how acidic or alkaline our bodies are? What does this mean to achieving optimum health and wellness? Continue reading

Natural Prevention and Treatment for Healthy Eyes

Image Credit:  Biographix Media http://www.biographixmedia.com/

Image Credit: Biographix Media http://www.biographixmedia.com/

How do we Keep our Eyes Healthy?
Painful, watery, itchy or tired eyes can be the result of many different factors. The type of treatment needed depends on the cause of the eye problem.  These factors may include the following:

  • Allergies or Environmental Triggers
  • Eyestrain or Stress
  • Fatigue or Poor Sleeping Patterns
  • Conjunctivitis or Infection in the Eye
  • Insufficient Oxygen to the Cornea and Outer Eye Tissue

Watery Red Eyes

Allergies and Eyes
Most people associate allergies with sneezing, coughing or wheezing, and nasal discharge or “runny nose,” but the eyes are often affected by allergies. According to the
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, eye allergy symptoms can include: Itching, redness, burning and a clear, watery discharge.
Outdoor allergens, such as pollen from grass, flowers, trees and weeds can easily trigger eye allergy symptoms as well as indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, mildew and mold. Environmental  irritants such as diesel exhaust and petroleum fumes, perfumes, and cigarette smoke also can cause the eyes to fatigue, burn and water.

 

Teenager on Computer Eye StrainEye Strain and Overuse
Recent studies show that more than 9 out of 10 adults (93.3 percent) spend more than two hours each day using a computer or other digital device, with more than 6 in 10 adults (60.8 percent) spending five or more hours every day on digital devices. This is often referred to as “digital eye strain.”

Digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome is the physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen. This would include desktop and laptop computers, tablets, e-readers and cell phones. The average person who does not sit in from of a digital screen will blink the eye about 18 times per minute. This natural blinking, lubricates the eyeball and prevents dry, itching or burning eyes. However, research shows that those who spend 2 or more hours staring at a digital screen, blink the eyes less often. This can result in dry, itchy or burning eyes.

 

Young Boy Reading Eye StrainOther causes of eye strain include excessive use of the eyes in any ongoing continuous activity that requires intense and unaltered focus in vision — such as extended amounts of driving, writing, or reading.  Each of these activities can cause eye fatigue. Those who work long hours using their eyes, such as accountants, researchers, illustrators or artists, editors, writers are at high risk. Those who drive vehicles without frequent visual changes, such as a truck driver who drives long distance on many miles of road with no change in scenery are also susceptible to eye strain. Continuous use of the eyes without blinking or change in focus, causes the eyes to get less exercise and to strain the eyes.

 

Sleeping Disorders and Fatigue
When a person does not get enough sleep the eyes are dramatically affected.  After a few sleepless nights, the skin around the eyes can turn an unhealthy brown, yellow or sallow color and often become puffy.

Sleeping ChildChronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes. The body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol which breaks down skin collagen. Collagen can help to maintain the elasticity and softness of the skin.  Without adequate rest or sleep, the eyes cannot revive. Sleep, rest, or meditation is necessary to rejuvenate the eyes and maintain proper eye health. Those who do not get enough sleep may experience blurred vision, eye pain, dry eyes, watering or burning eyes, and in extreme cases, trouble focusing, clouded vision, double vision, and twitching of the eyelid or eyeball (myokymia).  Myokymia can be very distracting and limit productivity.  If a person has trouble sleeping, they should try gentle meditation exercises or napping throughout the day.

 

Conjunctivitis or Eye Infection
How does one know the difference between simple eye strain, allergies or an eye infection? Symptoms of an eye infection are more severe. Watery, burning, red and tired eyes caused by an allergic reaction, lack or sleep or eye strain, will generally improve or will be slightly relieved when the person rests or removes the known allergen(s) triggering the response.

Image Credit:  Journal of the American Medical Association  www.jamanetwork.com

Image Credit: Journal of the American Medical Association http://www.jamanetwork.com

Allergies can develop into conjunctivitis or eye infection if not properly treated. Untreated eye infection can be very serious and lead to vision impairment.  According to the American Optometric Association, the symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
  • Itching or burning sensation in one or both eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Discharge coming from one or both eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Pink discoloration to the whites of one or both eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light

The American Optometric Association defines conjunctivitis as:

“Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye… While conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, sometimes it can develop into a more serious problem.”

The three major types of conjunctivitis are allergic, chemical, or infectious. Infectious conjunctivitis can be either viral or bacterial. A person can get staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria from their own skin or respiratory system and this bacteria can spread to the eye through touch, from insects, or from other people. 

People can also develop bacterial conjunctivitis from poor hygiene habits, such as rubbing or touching the eyes with unclean hands or using old, contaminated eye makeup and facial lotions. Eye MakeupFor this reason, makeup application brushes should be cleaned regularly and old makeup should be discarded after about one year, depending on use. Application sponges should be washed after each use and thrown away after about one month. Most cleansers and lotions contain fatty acids and should be discarded after six months. Makeup contamination can occur at any time, because it is always in contact with the eyes, mouth and fingers, which are highly susceptible to germs. If something has changed color or has a strange smell, throw it away immediately.  

Giant papillary conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue underneath the eyelid. Those who wear soft contact lenses, can contract this infection from the bacteria on the contact lenses. The likelihood of contracting this infection is heightened during the allergy season.

Sick Woman Blowing NoseContagious viral upper respiratory infections, such as influenza or the common cold, are generally the causes of viral conjunctivitis. This is usually  contracted through coughing or sneezing, and spreads from the mucus of the nose or mouth, onto the hands and into the eye.

 

Lack of Oxygen to the Eye
Lack of oxygen to the brain and the eye, such as what occurs in those with sleep apnea, heart failure, lung disease or other cardio-pulmonary,  or neurological conditions, can cause eye strain and result in loss of vision due to the effects on the retina, choroid or optic nerve.  Climbing Mountain Lack of OxygenAlso at risk are pilots or cross country hikers, who become oxygen deprived.  If someone is experiencing blurring vision, pain, or swelling or pressure behind the eyes, due to lack of oxygen, they should contact their doctors or trusted health practitioner.  If an insufficient amount of oxygen is entering the bloodstream, the body will react rapidly. This deficit in oxygen is called hypoxia. The eye is usually the first body part to be affected by hypoxia.  A person can recover when the body regains its normal oxygen supply. Hypoxia will progress to anoxia if left untreated. Anoxia is a complete lack of oxygen which results in permanent physical damage or death.

 

Contact Lens

Image Credit: Colormecontacts.com

Contact lenses, in addition to being a trigger for bacterial infections (as written above), can decrease the supply of oxygen to the cornea when it is too tight, too thick or if worn too long. However, a soft contact lens known as silicon hydrogel is less likely to cause this problem, as it provides six times more oxygen to the eye than the traditional soft lens, but these lenses are more expensive. Those who are not practicing careful hygiene with their contact lenses or who wear their lenses too long, could experience symptoms such as clouded vision and red and painful eyes. If this occurs, the person should discontinue using contact lenses and consult a medical practitioner.  They might be advised to use and ointments or drops to reduce swelling, tearing, and promote healing.

 

Preventative Measures
To prevent bacterial or viral eye infection and allergic or chemical eye strain or infection, simple preventative measure can be taken:

  • Washing HandsKeep windows closed during high pollen periods; use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently and especially after petting any animal.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Take frequent breaks if spending long hours using the eyes (writing, driving, reading, etc.)
  • Use “mite-proof” bedding covers to limit exposure to dust mites, and a dehumidifier to control mold.
  • Don’t touch your eyes with your hands.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Change your towel and washcloth daily, and don’t share them with others.
  • Discard eye cosmetics, particularly mascara.Man Sleeping
  • Get plenty of sleep, or try meditation or frequent naps to rest the eyes.
  • Don’t use anyone else’s eye cosmetics or personal eye-care items.
  • Follow your eye doctor’s instructions on proper contact lens care.
  • Use specially designed computer eyewear such as anti-reflective, or AR, lens, or blue light-blocking lenses

 

Natural Treatments for Tired Eyes
There are several natural treatments that might be effective for tired eyes. However, if you suspect that you have a serious infection and experience no relief after making lifestyle changes, see a doctor or trusted healthcare professional for an examination, accurate diagnosis, medical advice and treatment.

Tea Treatment for Tired Eyes

  • Tea has been an age-old remedy to soothe tired eyes. Boil some tea in a little water and let it cool. Dip 2 clean pieces of gauze into the cool tea and place one on each eye for 15 minutes. Make sure you keep dipping the gauze into the liquid as soon as it dries, and reapply as needed.
  • For temporary relief of tired eyes, lie down, close your eyes, and place a cold washcloth (compress) over your eyes. Relax for about 15 or 20 minutes. Refresh the compress as needed.
  • When seeking relief for computer eye strain, researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Industrial Health have found that lowering the computer monitor’s position (and the angle of your head) increases tear production and soothes tired eyes.
  • Eye exercises and vision therapy can sometimes be very effective. Specially trained therapists or ophthalmologists might provide this.
  • For tired eyes, wash them with cold water, several times a day. Rinsing the eyes with water has been found to be highly effective in soothing tired eyes.
  • Herbal remedies such as eyebright and goldenseal have been known to be helpful (do not use goldenseal during pregnancy, or if you are allergic to ragweed).
  • An effective homeopathic remedy might be Ruta graveolens. It is most likely to be helpful in cases of eyestrain where the eyes burn and water after long periods of eye use.

Eye Exam

Prescription or Over the Counter Medications
Your health care practitioner or doctor might advise you to control some symptoms with nonprescription medications, sold over the counter or a prescription medication for infection. These might include

  • Artificial tears
  • Decongestant eyedrops (don’t use eyedrops for “red eye” longer than a week, or they can make things worse)
  • Oral antihistamines (note that they may dry your eyes and make your symptoms worse)
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory prescription medication
  • Antibiotic eye drops or eye cream prescription medication

However, the best way to prevent eye strain or eye infection and to ensure healthy eyes, is to live a healthy, responsible life.  Be sure to get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol, drink plenty of water, protect your eyes from sun, smoke, and eyestrain, and get regular eye checkups from your trusted doctor or health practitioner.

 

Resources
Azari, AA; Barney, NP (October 23, 2013). “Conjunctivitis: a systematic review of diagnosis and treatment.”. JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association 310 (16): 1721–9. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280318. PubMed

Brendan T. Barrett (2008). “A critical evaluation of the evidence supporting the practice of behavioural vision therapy”. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 29(1): 4–25, Retrieved 2015-o1-10  PubMed

Conjunctivitis, American Optometric Association, aoa.org. Accessed 2015-01-10

Cassel, G.H.,  Billig, M.D.,  Randall, H.G., The Eye Book: A Complete Guide to Eye Disorders and Health (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book),  Paperback, April 3, 1998,  ISBN-13: 978-0801858475

Eye Allergy, American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Accessed 2015-01-10

Goldberg, S., Trattler, W, Ophthalmology Made Ridiculously Simple, Paperback – April 15, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1935660064

Torin Monahan. “Vision Control and Autonomy Constraints: Managed Care Confronts Alternative Medicine.” June 1998.  Retrieved 2015-o1-10  publicsurveillance.com

What Is Allergic Conjunctivitis? What Causes Allergic Conjunctivitis?”. medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved 2015-01-10.

 

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This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.  Images used in this article are free public domain from Pixabay.com or Publicdomainpictures.net  Other images are credited.

 

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Sleepy ManGeneralized Anxiety Disorder
People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD experience an excessive amount of worry about everyday subjects such as work, family, friends, and health. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) (2013) states that “Anxiety disorders affects about 40 million Americans age 18 years and older (about 18 percent) in a given year”. The feeling of anxiety is persistent and lasts for more than 6 months.

People with GAD tend to exaggerate the feeling of uneasiness and tension when there is no reason to worry. The disorder may keep people from doing things they enjoy because they are fearful of the consequences.

The disorder can develop at any age of a person’s lifetime whether it is during childhood or adulthood. The symptoms of the disorder can mimic other mood disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder. Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be a life-long condition. Women are twice more likely to be diagnosed with the illness than men (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2014).

Young child frightened parentsCauses of GAD
The cause(s) of Generalized Anxiety Disorder are unknown. There is evidence that the condition may be inherited however the findings are inconclusive. Environmental factors may play a role in the progression of the illness. Living in a stressful household or working in an uneasy workplace may exacerbate GAD (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2014).


AnxietySymptoms of GAD
The National Institute of Mental Health (2014) states that the physical symptoms of anxiety are “fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, having to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling out of breath, and hot flashes.”  Mayo Clinic (2014) provides a list of the general symptoms people may exhibit from the condition. The symptoms include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Persistent worrying or obsession about small or large concerns that’s out of proportion to the impact of the event
  • Inability to set aside or let go of a worry
  • Inability to relax, restlessness, and feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating, or feeling that your mind “goes blank”
  • Worrying about excessively worrying
  • Distress about making decisions for fear of making the wrong decision
  • Carrying every option in a situation all the way out to its possible negative conclusion
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty or indecisiveness

 Worried elderly woman

“People with GAD can’t seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.”   -National Institute of Mental Health (2014)


Worried depressed older manDiagnosis of GAD
When a person has persistent and excessive feelings of uneasiness, anxiety and worry for longer than 6 months, it is recommended to seek a medical professional to receive a diagnosis. Since the cause(s) of Generalized Anxiety Disorder are unknown, it can be difficult to properly diagnose the disorder without ruling out other illnesses that manifest similar symptoms. The doctor will perform a thorough mental health examination. If Generalized Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed, the doctor will discuss proper forms of treatment.

Treatments for GAD
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is commonly treated with three types of treatments: psychotherapy, medication, or lifestyle changes. In psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy is beneficial for people suffering from GAD.
Teenager stressed in libraryThe National Alliance on Mental Illness (2012) states that “Cognitive behavior therapy is a form of treatment that focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors”.  People learn to think and react differently to certain stressful situations to prevent self-destructive behaviors and negative thoughts that could cause anxiety. Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines are used to treat GAD.

Antidepressant medications such as Prozac are also helpful in treating mood disorders; however people can have suicidal thoughts while on antidepressants.

Natural Holistic Lifestyle Changes
Mayo Clinic lists the following natural lifestyle changes that are helpful in preventing and treating GAD:

Young adults yoga

  • Keep physically active. Develop a routine so that you’re physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It may improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities.

Alcohol and depression

    • Avoid alcohol and other sedatives. These substances can worsen anxiety.
    • Quit smoking and cut back or quit drinking coffee. Both nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.
  • Make sleep a priority. Do what you can to make sure you’re getting enough sleep to feel rested. If you aren’t sleeping well, see your doctor.
    Woman eating healthy salad
  • Eat healthy. Healthy eating-such as focusing on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish- may be linked to reduced anxiety, but more research is needed.


Alternative Treatments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
In addition to the natural holistic lifestyle changes listed above, there are other effective natural and alternative methods for treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Some of the most popular methods are:  acupuncture,yoga, and meditation.

 

Acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture needles in woman’s spine

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that focuses on the human body’s flow of energy. With acupuncture, needles are inserted into certain areas of the body. Acupuncture is becoming more widely used as a treatment for a wide variety of mood disorders.


Yoga
is a Hindu philosophy. yoga matsThe goal of practicing yoga is to gain control over the mind and body through physical postures and breathing exercises. Research studies show that yoga can significantly reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.

 

Meditation is a type of relaxation technique Meditation older peoplepeople use to calm the mind and to eliminate negative thoughts (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013). Many research studies have been conducted on the effects of meditation in reducing anxiety and stress. Recently the United States government has been  conducting research using meditation with men and women in the military.  See our article, “Marines are Meditating! Mindfulness- Based Fitness.”

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a serious condition which can begin at any age in a person’s lifetime.  If you believe you have GAD and your symptoms have lasted for more than six months, consult with your trusted family physician or health practitioner.  There are many treatment options available to help you.

 

References
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2014). Treating Anxiety Disorders. Complementary & Alternative Treatment. Retrieved November 18, 2014, from http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad

Duckworth, K., & Freedman, J. (2012, July). Treatment and Services. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Inform_Yourself/
About_Mental_Illness/About_Treatments_and_Supports/Cognitive
_Behavioral_Therapy1.htm

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Definition. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/basics/definition/con-20024562

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2013). Anxiety. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from, http://nccam.nih.gov/health/anxiety

National Institute of Mental Health. (2014). What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Retrieved November 21, 2014 from, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml

 

 

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This articleHang Pham, MBHA Health Educator is written by Hang Pham. Hang Pham is a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance Health and Wellness Educator. Hang Pham was born in Hoc Mon, Vietnam. She came to America in 1994, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2011. Hang graduated from Seaside High School with diploma and received her AA in General Studies from Monterey Peninsula College in 2011. She received her BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in 2012. In addition to working as a volunteer staff with the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, she currently works as a Clerical Aid in the Human Resources Department of Salinas City Hall. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:  
The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

 

 

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? How is it Treated?

Man stressedDEFINITION OF CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that is not explained through diagnostic testing or a pre-existing medical condition.  CFS is also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) and by other names. It can be a complex and debilitating chronic illness with a serious impact on one’s quality of life. Fatigue specific to CFS may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve after sleeping or resting.

Chronic Fatigue

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CFS? The most common symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis  (ME/CFS) include post-exertional malaise (PEM).  PEM is characterized by a state of exhaustion due to sleep that is not relieved by bedrest or sleep.  This unrefreshing sleep leads to trouble concentrating or mental fatigue, joint and muscle pain, with worsening symptoms typically lasting for six months or more.

Chronic Fatigue Primary symptoms include:

  1. Increased malaise (extreme exhaustion and sickness) following physical activity or mental exertion
  2. Problems with sleep
  3. Difficulties with memory and concentration
  4. Persistent muscle pain
  5. Joint pain (without redness or swelling)
  6. Headache
  7. Tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit
  8. Sore throat

Other secondary symptoms may include:

  1. Brain fog or trouble concentrating
  2. Difficulty maintaining an upright position
  3. Dizziness, balance problems or fainting
  4. Allergies or sensitivities to foods, odors, chemicals, medications, or noise
  5. Irritable bowel syndrome
  6. Low grade fever or low body temperature
  7. Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the face, hands, or feet
  8. Chills and night sweats
  9. Visual disturbances (sensitivity to light, blurring, eye pain)
  10. Depression or mood problems (irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)

Chronic Fatigue SyndromeA person with CFS feels completely exhausted to the point of being unable to function. This extreme tiredness makes it hard to do the daily tasks that most of us do without thinking — like dressing, bathing, holding a book, putting away dishes, or eating, and therefore might experience depression. Sleep or rest does not make the tiredness go away. It can be made worse by walking,  light exercising, carrying on a conversation or even thinking or problem-solving. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can happen gradually and worsen over time, or it may occur unexpectedly and suddenly.  The extreme tiredness may come and go, over many years.  In some cases the CFS symptoms never goes away. CFS symptoms must remain for at least six months before a diagnosis can be made by a trusted physician.


HOW COMMON IS CFS AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Experts estimate that at least one million Americans have CFS, and of these cases, 20% are undiagnosed. Statistics show that in the United States, approximately 75-420 people have CFS per 100,000 people.  In Australia,  o.3% or 30 per 1,000 people have CFS. Women are four times as likely as men to develop Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and people age 40 – 59 are more likely to be diagnosed, than children. People of all ages can get CFS, although studies suggest that CFS occurs more often in adolescents than in children under twelve years of age. CFS occurs in all ethnic groups, cultures, and countries around the world. Statistics show that it is more Tired womancommon in lower-income than in higher-income persons, however this is not significant. CFS is sometimes seen in members of the same family. Researchers are determining whether this might be because of a genetic link.  People who are overweight and inactive are more likely to develop CFS. There is no definite cause of CFS.  Epstein-Barr virus or human herpes virus-6 (HHV-6) might be a contributing factor, however, no specific virus has been identified as the cause.  It is thought that it might be caused by inflammation in the nervous system and a faulty immune system response. Age, previous illnesses, stress, genetics, and environmental factors listed above, may also play a significant role in the development of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.   People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome often report that the onset of symptoms occurred after a time of great stress, such as the loss of a loved one or major surgery. More research is needed to determine the cause.

Chronic Fatigue SymptomsHOW DOES THE DOCTOR DIAGNOSE CFS? A diagnosis of CFS may take many years to determine and can be frustrating or wearing for those suffering from CFS.  Laboratory tests currently are not used.  Sometimes CFS can be misdiagnosed because many Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms can be side effects of medical treatments or can also be symptoms of other illnesses.  Therefore, doctors will prescribe blood and urine tests, and possibly brain MRIs to rule out other illnesses and medical conditions.  All adult cases of CFS are determined by the “Fukuda criteria” from the 1994 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition.  Children with CFS are determined by a pediatric case definition of CFS.  A qualified doctor will make a diagnosis of CFS after questioning a patient about their physical and mental health, conducting a physical exam, and ordering urine and blood tests to rule-out other medical conditions.  The doctor will diagnose a patient as having CFS, only if that person has been extremely tired for six months or more and laboratory test results do not offer a medical solution, and if the patient has four out of the 8 primary symptoms of CFS listed above. In addition to having four out of the eight primary symptoms determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (listed above under “Primary symptoms”), the patient must  also have unexplained, persistent or relapsing chronic fatigue that is:

  1. New or definite onset (has not been lifelong)
  2. Not the result of ongoing exertion
  3. Not substantially alleviated by rest
  4. Results in substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, educational, social, or personal activities.


DISEASES WHICH HAVE SIMILAR SYMPTOMS TO CFS
Doctors must rule out other diseases and chronic illnesses that have similar symptoms. The following diseases and syndromes are often mistaken for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

  1. Drug dependence
  2. Infections
  3. Muscle or nerve diseases (such as multiple sclerosis)
  4. Endocrine diseases (such as hypothyroidism)
  5. Psychiatric or psychological illnesses, particularly depression
  6. Tumors
  7. Fibromyalgia
  8. Lyme disease
  9. Gulf War syndrome
  10. Gluten intolerance
  11. Post-polio syndrome
  12. Vitamin B12 deficiency
  13. Multiple chemical sensitivities
  14. Other immune or autoimmune disorders
  15. Heart, kidney or liver diseases

Woman tired at computerWHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME AND FIBROMYALGIA?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and fibromyalgia (FMS)are alike in many ways. In fact, it is not uncommon for a person to have both fibromyalgia and CFS. Some experts believe that fibromyalgia and CFS are in fact the same disorder. According to the Arthritis Foundation, research shows that 50 to 70 percent of people have both disorders. When diagnosing CFS or fibromyalgia, one primary difference, is determining which symptom is worst – pain or fatigue. The diagnosis could also be influenced by whether your primary care physician or practitioner is more familiar with the American College of Rheumatology’s criteria for FMS or the CDC’s guidelines for ME/CFS. Some researchers have discovered a few significant differences. ME/CFS seems to begin after a person experiences flu-like symptoms, so some believe that chronic fatigued syndrome may be linked to a virus, and those with CFS often have chronic immune system challenges, as if their bodies are fighting an infection, while fibromyalgia patients do not always have this. CFS patients sometimes have low-grade fever and sore throat, while FMS criteria does not require this for a diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is frequently is rooted in a physical or emotional trauma and the pain of FMS often gets better with massage and heat, while the pain of ME/CFS may not necessarily respond favorably to these treatments. However, despite these few differences, many agree that the two diagnoses have multiple similar symptoms and might indeed be the same disorder.

TREATMENT OF CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are funding CFS research studies on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in order to determine treatments and cures.  The following treatments have been found to be effective Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Aleve, Advil, or Motrin, can be beneficial in reducing pain, such as body aches, headaches, and muscle and joint pain. Non-drowsy antihistamines can help with allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, nose and watering or itching eyes.  Prescription medications like doxepin or amitriptyline can help improve sleep. Yoga poseComplementary or alternative treatments, such as massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, yoga, stretching, meditation, Tai Chi, Reiki,  biofeedback, or self-hypnosis can be helpful in treating stress-related symptoms or pain. Many alternative treatments, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies can be effective in alleviating CFS symptoms.  Neti Pots are a nonprescription solution for chronic allergy and sinusitis problems and recommended for use by most all healthcare practitioners. Herbal remedies such as honey and lemon tea, steam tent, valerian root, grapefruit seed extract, ginger, echinacea,  vitamin C supplements, and others. Talk to your doctor, nutritionist, or trusted health-care practitioner in order to determine which treatment is best for you.

Lifestyle changes can be effective in treating CFS.  A nutritionist or primary care doctor can make suggestions regarding a healthy diet.  A journal can be a helpful tool. Write down what you do each day, noting times when you feel particularly tired. Then, determine which activities are most fatiguing to you.  Stop doing things that seem to trigger your tiredness, or do less.  If basic tasks are overwhelming, such as dressing or eating, find ways to modify these tasks or break them into smaller steps.  occupational therapist

An occupational therapist or physical therapist can be helpful in recommending assistive devices (such as modified appliances or tools) if you are unable to achieve basic daily life skills.  The occupational therapist can help you with setting goals, and choosing alternative approaches to completing tasks at home and at work and making progress in managing your pain and fatigue. You might also need to change your working or resting environment and even move to another location that is more supportive and comfortable for you. CFS affects mental, emotional, or physical energy, so these modifications in behaviors must include all areas of fatigue.

ORGANIZATIONS

  1. Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America, Phone: 704-365-2343 http://solvecfs.org/
  2. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Center for Disease Control, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee, HHS, Phone: 202-690-7650 http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/
  3. International Association for CFS/ME Phone: 847-258-7248 http://www.iacfsme.org/
  4. National CFIDS Foundation, Phone: 781-449-3535 http://www.ncf-net.org/
  5. National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Association, Phone: 816-737-1343
  6. The Trans-NIH Working Group on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Phone: 301-402-1770

REFERENCES

  1. Evangard B, Schacterie R.S., Komaroff A. L. (Nov 1999). “Chronic fatigue syndrome: new insights and old ignorance”. Journal of Internal Medicine 246 (5): 455–469.
  2. Santhouse A, Hotopf M, David AS. Chronic fatigue syndrome. BMJ. 2010;340:c738
  3. Guideline 53: Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy). London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. 2007.
  4. Afari N, Buchwald D (2003). “Chronic fatigue syndrome: a review”. Am J Psychiatr 160 (2): 221–36
  5. “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Symptoms”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2012-09-23
  6. “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Basic Facts”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 9, 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-07
  7. Carruthers BM, Jain AK, De Meirleir KL, Peterson DL, Klimas NG, et al. (2003). “Myalgic encephalomyalitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: Clinical working definition, diagnostic and treatment protocols” (PDF). Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 11 (1): 7–97
  8. Edmonds M, McGuire H, Price J (2004). “Exercise therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome”. In Price, Jonathan R. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (3): CD003200.

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer:The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Can Vitamin D Help Improve Muscle Strength and Fatigue?

What does Vitamin D have to do with muscle development and functionality?  Can taking vitamin D supplements help improve muscle strength? Recent research shows that vitamin D can be effective in improving muscle strength and reducing muscle fatigue.

Vitamin D - Powerful Healer

Current research shows that vitamin D can strengthen muscles and reduce fatigue. Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide problem.

HOW DOES THE BODY RECEIVE AND USE VITAMIN D? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin.  It is produced in the body using the energy we receive from sunlight, and also found in some foods such as milk, salmon or cod liver oil and other fish, and vitamin-fortified foods, such as cereals.  Vitamin D and calcium are important for good bone health and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and protect older adults from osteoporosis. Muscles need vitamin D in order to move and nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and  every part of the body, and vitamin D helps our immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses.

 

Man exhausted books

A vitamin D deficiency results in muscle weakness and atrophy, bone loss, and fatigue.

WHAT IS VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY? A diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency is rapidly on the rise and becoming a significant public health problem world-wide.  Fatigue is frequently found to be the cause of vitamin D deficiency. The mitochondria within the cells, take fats and sugars and make them into energy.  When the mitochondria are not working properly, people have symptoms of fatigue. Vitamin D deficiency is a well-recognized cause of fatigue and myopathy (a muscular disease resulting in muscular weakness).  Bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen without sufficient vitamin D. Vitamin D can prevent rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.  In the 1930’s milk was fortified with vitamin D making rickets almost unheard of in the United States, although it is still occurs occasionally.  It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food and therefore sunlight is the primary source.  This means that elderly people who are home-bound, those who spend most of their days working inside,  or women or men who wear long robes and cover their heads for religious reasons, will most likely not receive enough vitamin D and will need supplementation. Dark-skinned and obese people, those whose wear sun-block, and those who have tinted windows are also at risk of not getting enough vitamin D. Doctors are discovering that patients with somewhat elusive or undiagnosed symptoms of fatigue and muscle weakness are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency.


WHAT RESEARCH HAS BEEN CONDUCTED?
Several research studies have been conducted on vitamin D. Bischoff-Ferrari  (2009)  and other researchers investigated vitamin D and its effects on preventing falls among older individuals.  They concluded, “Supplemental vitamin D in a dose of 700-1000 IU a day reduced the risk of falling among older individuals by 19% and to a similar degree as active forms of vitamin D. Doses of supplemental vitamin D of less than 700 IU or serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations of less than 60 nmol/l may not reduce the risk of falling among older individuals.”

 

two girls computer

More children and adults are getting less exposure to sunlight and are deficient in vitamin D.

Holick and Chen (2008) conclude that, “Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic.”  They state that “A circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of >75 nmol/L, or 30 ng/mL, is required to maximize vitamin D’s beneficial effects for health. In the absence of adequate sun exposure, at least 800-1000 IU vitamin D3/d may be needed to achieve this in children and adults.”   Vieth R, Bischoff-Ferrari and others (2007) in a study on dietary and lifestyle predictors with British adults, found an “urgent need”  to recommend an efficient dose of vitamin D.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2010) summarized 165 primary articles and 11 systematic reviews that incorporated over 200 additional primary articles, in “Vitamin D and Calcium: Systematic Review of Health Outcomes.”  They concluded that “The majority of the findings concerning vitamin D, calcium, or a combination of both nutrients on the different health outcomes were inconsistent. Synthesizing a dose-response relation between intake of either vitamin D, calcium, or both nutrients and health outcomes in this heterogeneous body of literature proved challenging.

Dr. Anna Dorothea Hoeck, MD (2009), estimates that over a billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient or insufficient and that there appears to be a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and chronic fatigue syndrome or multi-system syndromes. She states that  “Severe vitamin D deficiency with levels below 10 ng/ml (25 nm ol/L) causes severe fatigue and personality changes, depression-like symptoms, chronic sleep disorder, multiple intolerances,obvious immune dysfunctions and in the long time, multi-system symptoms and multi-system diseases”

Dr. Zahid Naeem (2010), MBBS, MCPS, DPH, FCPS, Professor, states that “Vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem. With all the medical advances of the century, vitamin D deficiency is still epidemic. Over a billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient or insufficient. Yet no international health organization or governmental body has declared a health emergency to warn the public about the urgent need of achieving sufficient vitamin D blood levels.”

A recent research study was presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Harrogate, UK., and supported by the British Society of Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes (BSPED).    Dr Akash Sinha (2013), research team leader, and researchers from Newcastle University Endocrinology, GNCH, Institute of Genetic Medicine, investigated the effects of cholecalciferol therapy (vitamin D3) on skeletal mitochondrial oxidative function in symptomatic, vitamin D deficient individuals.  The researchers studied  the phosphocreatine (a compound of phosphoric acid and creatine found in vertebrate muscle) recovery time in patients with vitamin D deficiency.   Twelve patients were used in the study.  They each were diagnosed with severe vitamin D deficiency before and after treatment with vitamin D.   A non-invasive magnetic resonance scan (MRI) called phosphorus-31 magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to measure phosphocreatine movement in response to exercise in the calf muscles of all 12 patients.  Serum assays were performed before and after cholecalciferol therapy to document serum 25OHD and bone profiles.   Ten to twelve (10-12) weeks after treatment, the researchers found phosphocreatine recovery significantly improved. After receiving vitamin D supplementation, all patients reported improvement in fatigue symptoms. According to Dr Akash Sinha research team leader,

“This is the first time a link has been shown between vitamin D status and muscle aerobic function.”

“Patients with vitamin D deficiency often experience symptoms of muscle fatigue. Our findings in a small group of patients with very low vitamin D levels show that muscle efficiency significantly improves when vitamin D status is improved.”


CONCLUSION

Kiss the sunVitamin D deficiency is becoming a world-wide problem. This may be due to our technological advances and cultural changes with more people choosing to spend long hours working and relaxing indoors. Researchers conclude that vitamin D deficiency may be the cause of multiple physical ailments with symptoms of muscle fatigue, atrophy and bone loss.  Vitamin D is not easily found in many foods, therefore many researchers and health professionals are determining that it may be necessary or urgent for people to alter their lifestyle to receive adequate doses of vitamin D from sunshine or from supplementation.  The recent study by Akash and others (2013) showed significant improvement in muscle efficiency after increasing vitamin D supplementation with patients who were vitamin D deficient. This was ground-breaking documentation.  More research, like this is needed with more subject to determine how and why this is happening and if people who are not vitamin D deficient can also benefit from using vitamin D.

RESOURCES
Akash SA, Hollingsworth K, Ball S, and Cheetham T, Improving the vitamin D status of vitamin D deficient adults is associated with improved mitochondrial oxidative function in skeletal muscle Endocrine Abstracts (2013) 31 OC1.6, DOI:10.1530/endoabs.31.OC1.6

Bandeira F, Gris L. Vitamin D deficiency a global perspective. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metab. 2006;50/4:640–646.

Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Dawson-Hughes B, Staehelin HB, Orav JE, Stuck AE, Theiler R, et al. Fall prevention with supplemental and active forms of vitamin D: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2009;339:b3692.

Chung M, Balk EM, Brendel M, Ip S, Lau J, Lee J, et al. Vitamin D and calcium: a systematic review of health outcomes. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 183 prepared by the Tufts Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2007-10055-I. AHRQ

Cranney A, Horsely T, O’Donnell S, Weiler H, Puil L, Ooi D, Atkinson S, Ward L, Moher D, Hanley D, Fang M, Yazdi F, Garrity C, Sampson M, Barrowman N, Tsertsvadze A, Mamaladze V. Effectiveness and Safety of Vitamin D in Relation to Bone Health Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 158. (Prepared by Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-02-0021). AHRQ Publication No. 07-E013, Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. August 2007.

Heaney RP. Long-latency deficiency disease: insights from calcium and vitamin D. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:912-9.

Hoeck AD, MD, Vitamin D deficiency results in chronic fatigue and multi-system symptoms
Mariawaldstr. 15.09.2009; Apr;87(4):1080S-6S.7, 50935 Cologne, Germany.

Hollick MF, Chen TC. Vitamin D deficiency a worldwide problem with health consequences. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:10805–68.

Naeem Z, Vitamin D Deficiency- An Ignored Epidemic, Int J Health Sci (Qassim). Jan 2010; 4(1): V–VI.

Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals, Office of Dietary Supplements,  National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Vieth R, Bischoff-Ferrari H, Boucher BJ, Dawson-Hughes B, Garland CF, Heaney RP, et al. The urgent need to recommend an intake of vitamin D that is effective. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:649-50.

Vitamin D and Calcium: Structured Abstract. May 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

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Jean E. Dart
This article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer:The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.