The mystery of chronic fatigue syndrome


For the past more than 100 years, medical literature describes the details of a strange disease that is characterized by a feeling of constant fatigue, memory loss, headaches, problems with mental activity, digestion and sleep. Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir and Thomas Eakins - all suffered illness, which was known then as neyrosteniya.

In those days, the recommended treatment for women was bed rest, and for men - a more active lifestyle. But none of the treatments did not result in complete recovery. Gradually, by the end of the 20th century, doctors came to the term chronic fatigue syndrome (or, as it was called in Europe, myalgic encephalomyelitis), to describe a set of symptoms that used to be called neyrosteniey. But we still did not understand the nature of this mysterious disease, as, indeed, not been able to identify its cause.

Patients suffering due to a faulty understanding of the disease. Sometimes, doctors attributed the symptoms to anxiety, depression or hypochondria. Employers are also looking at it in less than sympathetic.

Today, the leading specialists in the field of Health finally admitted that chronic fatigue syndrome is a real and serious illness. But his name, which is focused on one of the many symptoms of this disorder was the reason to make the disease more commonplace, turning it into more psychological than physical illness, reducing thus the interest in the disease mainstream medical and scientific researchers.

And this lack of interest of researchers is a very sad fact, since unsolved problems with chronic fatigue syndrome are more scientific. We need to find out the cause of the disease and to use this information to develop research to be able to diagnose it, to prevent and treat it.

Today, many researchers agree that chronic fatigue syndrome is probably caused by a failure of the immune system. It was conjectured that these disorders knock the immune system for a prolonged period of time and lead to the fact that the body becomes hypersensitive and produce large amounts of toxic substances, which then causes fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, and mental disorders associated with the disease.

Scientists suspect that the chain of events that lead to these long-term impairment of the immune system begins when someone is exposed to, for example, a toxic chemical, bacterial or viral infection. But the establishment of such a substance proved to be quite difficult.

Over the last few decades a number of viruses and bacteria have been considered as possible culprits of chronic fatigue syndrome, but in the course of scientific studies have found no evidence. The most striking example occurred two years ago when a group of researchers reported the discovery of mouse virus called XMRV, a pathogen belonging to the same family as HIV, which causes AIDS. They thought that they have identified the virus in the blood of some patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, giving hope to patients around the world.

Unfortunately, before these results were confirmed, many patients took XMRV virus as the cause of the disease, which have been looking for, and began to consider potential treatments. Because of the similarities between the mouse virus and HIV, some of them even started taking AIDS drugs.

Then, the truth became known.

In more than 10 studies, data concerning XMRV virus have been completely refuted, since, as shown by the results of analysis in the study of blood in patients with chronic fatigue, the virus was not there. Furthermore, experiments have shown that murine virus survives in human blood, making it highly unlikely source of human infection. As noted by other studies suggest that a possible source of the virus XMRV could be contaminated laboratory materials.

Until we determine the cause and do not develop the best methods of treatment of the disease, people with chronic fatigue syndrome will continue to suffer. Meanwhile, we have to increase support for the theoretical research and the best methods for the detection based on the confirmation for the treatment of disease.

Original: Medicalxpress Translation: M. Potter

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