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A new study suggests that chronic fatigue syndrome may have just gotten a major breakthrough. According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex disorder that is accompanied by debilitating fatigue, that experts are not able to explain, as well as a variety of other unbearable symptoms. There is also no known cause of the development of the disease at this time, and no specific medical test that can confirm a diagnosis. Many other disorders such as depression, lupus and lyme disease mimic the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, so medical tests are required to rule these, and other disorders, out. Many doctors even refute the existence of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome due to lack of information and the fact that there is no way to actually diagnose the disorder.
According to a recent study, Stanford researchers are now saying that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have distinct abnormalities in their brains. The study compared 15 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome with those who are healthy and without any medical issues or disorders. Patients were male and female and varied in age. Using imaging methods that are relatively new in the medical field, researchers found that the patients’ brains each had at least three abnormalities in a nerve tract that is located in the right hemisphere of the brain. According to Michael Zeineh, assistant professor of radiology at Stanford University School of Medicine, this hard evidence may finally be what those with the disorder have been waiting for. The more damaged, and the more abnormalities existing within the nerve tract, the more severe the fatigue someone experiences will be, as was the case in patients who participated in the study. Many patients have been waiting for just such a major breakthrough, and the new study may provide clues to better medications and treatment protocols.
They also found that the patients had less white matter in the brain compared to those who were healthy. This could mean that there is chronic inflammation in the brain of the patients. This inflammation could also be present throughout their bodies, possibly contributing the severe pain of which many patients complain. Zeineh claims that the inflammation they are seeing in the results of the study may have been created by the body’s response to a viral infection. If the results of this study are confirmed it could lead to better solutions for those suffering with this disorder. The findings could lead to better ways to diagnose the disease that have never been available in the past, and are not available presently. It could also, potentially, lead to an eventual cure.
Patients who have chronic fatigue syndrome have often been written off by many of those in the medical field. They have been called lazy, or hypochondriacs seeking attention. Many spend years trying to find someone to treat them, all along being dismissed and told there is nothing physically wrong with them. Many are labeled as having some sort of mental disorder. Even the few that are actually diagnosed with the disorder still face the skepticism that comes along with it. This new study has been extremely welcomed as a major breakthrough by people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, and by experts who specialize in this complicated disease.
By: Rebecca Savastio