Alcohol and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Reasons Not to Drink Alcohol

Alcohol can be a social lubricant and the majority of people who use this substance are able to do so sensibly. An occasional drink may even bring certain health benefits to the individual. There are also plenty of people who choose not to indulge in alcoholic beverages. This may be because they just don’t see the attraction, or they have a history of abusing this substance and have decided that abstinence is the best choice for them. There are also people who don’t drink because of an existing health condition such as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Explained

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) can be defined as a type of tiredness that is not relieved by rest and that is not caused by other medical conditions. The symptoms of this condition can make it difficult for people to take care of their responsibilities and engage in activities they enjoy. The individual just feels tired all the time and this can take much of the pleasure out of life. Chronic fatigue syndrome is also sometimes referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome can include:

* The individual feels tired much of the time
* Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or under the armpits
* Headaches
* Muscle pains that have no obvious cause
* If the individual engages in exercise they feel exhausted for more than 24 hours after the event
* Sore throat
* Joint pain that seems to move around the body
* The individual does not feel rested even though they have had a good night’s sleep
* It is often described as an unusual type of tiredness – not the same as what people are normally used to
* Sensitivity to light
* Sometimes people will also experience symptoms of depression
* Sensitivity to noise
* Stomach troubles or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
* Problems with short term memory
* Flu like symptoms

Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

There is no clear explanation for why people develop chronic fatigue syndrome. There are a number of theories about what could be happening:

* It may be a faulty immune system response that leads to inflammation of the immune system.
* It has also been suggested that the symptoms are caused by a virus although no virus has yet been identified. Likely candidates include Epstein-Barr virus or human herpes virus-6.

There are also a number of contributing factors that are believed to increase the likelihood of developing CFS including:

* A family history of the condition. There may be a genetic component to chronic fatigue syndrome.
* Environmental factors.
* If people are dealing with excessive stress they may be more at risk of developing the condition.
* Poor diet choices.
* Those people who are socially isolated seem to be more likely to develop CFS.
* Lack of exercise or excessive exercise.
* Traumatic events.
* History of viral infections such as glandular fever.
* History of depression.

Alcohol and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

There is no real evidence that alcohol use is a contributing factor in CFS, but it can almost certainly make things worse. Those who are dealing with the condition may be tempted to self medicate with alcohol, but this is almost certain to exacerbate the symptoms. This is because alcohol is a type of drug known as a depressant – this means that it slows down mental functioning. Alcohol abuse can also lead to physical and psychological dependence on this drug. It is not necessary for the individual to become an alcohol before they begin to be physically and mentally damaged by this type of substance abuse. There has also been studies conducted that support the idea that people with CFS should avoid alcohol.

Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

There is no actual cure for CFS, but there are things that can be done to manage the symptoms of this condition including:

* Techniques for dealing with insomnia.
* Eating a balanced diet. It can also be helpful to eat small meals often.
* Cognitive behavioral therapy has proved to be an effective tool in CFS symptom management.
* Anti anxiety medications.
* Medications to treat depression.
* Drugs to treat pains or other body discomfort.
* Stress management techniques.
* Graded exercise therapy involves a structured program where the individual exerts themselves more and more over time. In the beginning they may be able to do very little but things usually improve over time.
* Learning to pace activities. The individual organizes there day so they are able to get more things done.
* Avoiding stressful situations.
* Completely avoiding alcohol or at least keeping intake to a minimum – some people with CFS do seem to be able to consume the occasional alcoholic beverage without too many ill effects.
* Limiting caffeinated drinks.
* Ensuring periods during the day that are just for relaxation.

Most people observe an improvement in symptoms over time.

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