What is Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic Fatigue is also called Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS). Recently it received a new name: Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID). Up to 7 million people are afflicted with CFIDS in this country alone. Accurate statistics are difficult to obtain due to the difficulty in diagnosing this condition. As many as 15 million Americans have fatigue-related issues, sometimes called Unrelenting Fatigue, without a diagnosis of CFIDS. The incidence of Chronic Fatigue is increasing steadily since the early 1980’s. This may be due to better recognition and detection, but is more likely due to the underlying causes becoming more predominant or severe.
Chronic Fatigue is a debilitating condition marked with extreme exhaustion and fatigue. Until recent years, the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue was viewed as a psychological disorder, if you could even get a physician to believe it existed. The current diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue is mostly based on symptom recognition and physical exam, although there are a number of tests that are useful in determining the underlying causes. Treatment up to this time has been mostly symptom control. Many still believe it is a psychological disorder and relegate all patients to drug treatments. However, new understanding of Chronic Fatigue allows treatment of the underlying causes, thus resulting in a cure for many patients.
There is hope for the tired and hurting.
Chronic Fatigue (CFIDS) patients have a severe, chronic fatigue lasting 6 months or longer (having excluded other potential conditions) and also having four or more of the following symptoms: substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, muscle pain, multi-joint pain without swelling or redness, headaches of a new type, pattern or severity, unrefreshing sleep, and post-exertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours. Most Chronic Fatigue patients run low grade fevers and have problems with their immune system and fighting off infections. They also tend to have multiple food and environmental allergies. Many are clinically depressed.
Fatigue is a symptom that seems to be growing exponentially. While it may not be severe enough to meet the above criteria for Chronic Fatigue, it may be debilitating enough to prevent or discourage activities. We see many people who describe fatigue symptoms that interfere with their lives and their family or work activities. You may not be able to exercise like you used to. You may have to take frequent breaks or naps during the day. You may not be able to concentrate or focus while you read. We hear from many patients that they are so tired it is hard to get out of bed, go to work, go to church, read their favorite book, or be a participating member of the family. As a result, they gain weight and get depressed, compounding the fatigue.
It’s Interesting to note that many of the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue also occur in other disorders-Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism, Adrenal Fatigue, Hormone Imbalance, Nutritional Deficiencies, Food Sensitivities, Depression, and Environmental Toxicity. Could there be a relationship?
Dr. Gruning is especially interested in the relationship between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Biotoxin Illness. As time has passed and Dr. Gruning has treated hundreds of patients, he believes that many Chronic Fatigue patients have Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) due to a water damaged building or a tick bite with resultant post-Lyme Syndrome. The most common cause of CIRS is toxic mold from the interior of a Water Damaged Building, which is a very common condition. Dr. Gruning now assesses every Chronic Fatigue patient for CIRS.
Nutritional deficiencies and poor dietary choices play a major role in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Some of the most important culprits are wheat (and the gluten in it), dairy, and processed foods. In fact, Dr. Gruning has seen many patients totally recover just by changing their diet and eliminating these sensitizing foods and toxins. He often employs a Functional Nutritionist to help manage the major changes that must be made in a patient’s lifestyle in order to heal. Food sensitivities and allergies are very common in Fibromyalgia patients. While most patients will not recover fully just by changing their diet, it is an essential contributor to poor health that must be corrected.
Chronic Fatigue seems to have become more prevalent around the late 1970’s. That is when we began using the TSH test as the gold standard to test for thyroid problems. What if it is not accurate? What if we have been missing many cases of Hypothyroidism because of this? What if you are Hypothyroid?
The Thyroid Gland is an endocrine gland that affects the function of every aspect of your body. When it is not producing enough Thyroid Hormone, or that hormone cannot be converted to its active form and used by your body, your metabolism cannot be regulated and everything goes haywire. Thyroid disorders, at least the obvious ones, seem to be exploding in this country. Autoimmune Thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s) is all too common now. We believe that many Chronic Fatigue patients have Hypothyroidism.
Adrenal Fatigue is another common finding in Chronic Fatigue patients. To deal with the many stressful events in our lives, our body has a system to handle it-at least physically. The Adrenal Glands, which sit on top of each kidney, produce a myriad of hormones to regulate our body systems. They work in concert with the Thyroid Gland to control our metabolism. They produce stress hormones like Adrenaline and Cortisol. They produce Aldosterone to regulate our fluid balance. Pregnenolone and DHEA are important Adrenal hormones that affect many organs of our bodies. And they produce sex hormones, which become increasingly important as we pass mid-life.
As we accumulate stress over the years, our Adrenal Glands are working hard to produce Cortisol and other hormones to compensate and keep us going. Gradually, over time, they get tired of trying to keep up with our stressful lives. Poor diet, nutrient deficiencies, toxins, poor sleep, and other factors take their toll. The hormone production begins to decline and the Adrenal Glands can no longer fully compensate for stressors. Then, some major stressful event occurs and they just can’t keep up, resulting in Adrenal Fatigue or even failure. Our patients usually describe a time (or even a date) when everything got worse and they have never felt well since
Other causes of Chronic Fatigue include sleep dysfunction, lack of exercise, and a spiritual life out of balance. Most patients have several causes at work. This is why a comprehensive, multidisciplinary treatment team approach is essential for the healing of Chronic Fatigue patients.
Chronic Fatigue is diagnosed by history of the typical symptoms. In addition, other diseases and disorders that can mimic or complicate the picture must be detected or excluded. There is no one test to diagnose Chronic Fatigue, but there are necessary tests to diagnose the underlying causes that can be successfully treated.
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed by history, physical exam, measurement of basal body temperature ( Broda Barnes test), and specific lab tests (blood). The lab is focused on thyroid function, antibodies and general organ function. In addition, other endocrine problems, such as Adrenal hormone deficiency (i.e. Cortisol, DHEA, sex hormones), are assessed with blood and saliva testing. Thyroid problems will not get better if there are untreated Adrenal problems. Iodine Deficiency is also sought as Thyroid Hormone is made from Iodine.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be evaluated thru blood tests and hair analysis. Food sensitivities are evaluated thru specialized blood testing and detailed history. Toxins can be evaluated thru hair, stool, or blood analysis. Biotoxins are diagnosed by history, vision testing and detailed blood analysis.
First, you need to understand our philosophy. The reason you have never had long term benefits from your prior attempts at treating Chronic Fatigue is because you have never been treated as a whole person – Holistic Treatment. Only by looking at Chronic Fatigue in this way, and using a multidisciplinary team approach, will you see results. Our Chronic Fatigue patients actually get better; cured, not just tolerating their symptoms.
Our Chronic Fatigue treatment team seeks to merge together the best of traditional medicine with natural therapies that heal. We call this Complementary Medicine. It is not alternative medicine. We seek to use only those Chronic Fatigue treatments that have at least some scientific validity, are safe, and are cost effective. And all of this is done in our modern facility in Fort Myers in an environment of love and compassion.
We believe you were created in God’s image and exist in three interrelated “persons” – the body, the mind, and the spirit (just as God exists in three persons – the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Only by addressing “sickness” in all three persons can you ever hope to be healed of Chronic Fatigue. Many things go into making you feel the way you do- and each must be addressed. This is not something one pill can fix. That is why nothing has worked for your Chronic Fatigue before.
The essential elements of Chronic Fatigue treatment at the International Center for Health and Wellness include:
- Nutritional therapy and correction of nutrient deficiencies
- Correction of sleep disorders
- Stress reduction
- Elimination of toxins, including Biotoxins
- Vitamin and mineral supplementation
- Exercise program
- Correction of Adrenal and Thyroid dysfunction
- Balance hormones
- Counseling for depression and anxiety
- Addressing your spiritual life
It is clear that this will take something major on your part – commitment! This Chronic Fatigue treatment program will simply not work unless you are totally committed to make it work. This means you must want to make whatever changes in your life are necessary to get well. And you must be consistent.
Fortunately, you will have a team of dedicated professionals to assist you with every step of your journey toward healing from Chronic Fatigue. We will assess you, formulate a treatment plan, and then help you implement it. We will hold you accountable and do whatever we can to help you heal. That is our commitment to you. All we need to get started is your commitment to get well.