Sunday, July 02, 2006

Education Key To Chronic Fatigue?

April 18, 2001 -- Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) who are provided medical explanations for their symptoms experience significant improvements in sleep, physical functioning, and mood, compared to those who are not provided such information, a new study suggests.

According to the National Institutes of Health, CFS is a serious, often debilitating illness marked by exhaustion, muscle pain, and cognitive disorders that some patients call "brain fog." CFS is diagnosed two to four times more often in women than in men. The condition lasts from months to years, and its cause is unknown. There is evidence, however, that people with CFS have disrupted circadian rhythms, the 24-hour patterns that govern our sleep-wake cycle. Disrupted circadian rhythms can lead to sleep problems and lowered physical activity.

According to Pauline Powell, Senior Clinical Therapist at University Hospital in Liverpool, England, when CFS patients are not given a medical explanation for their symptoms, many patients develop "inaccurate illness beliefs" that encourage avoidance of physical activity and induce abnormal sleep patterns which worsen the condition. In the current study, Powell and her team investigated whether providing CFS patients with medical explanations for their symptoms can help increase patients' participation in an exercise program and thus spark an improvement in symptoms.References:Powell P, Bentall RP, Nye FJ, Edwards RHT. Randomised controlled trial of patient education to encourage graded exercise in chronic fatigue syndrome.

BMJ. 2001;322:387-390.
© 2001 by Integrative Medicine Communications.

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