What is post-viral fatigue? And is it the same as ME/CFS?
And what's the camel got to do with it?
You may have heard the term “post-viral fatigue” in the last few months and as with much concerning Covid-19 and the pandemic, there is lots of debate and discussion about the long term effects of the virus as new data emerges and is analysed.
Post-viral fatigue syndrome is not new however - health practitioners working in the field of ME/CFS have known for years that viral infection is a common contributory factor in the development of the condition(1).
What is post-viral fatigue?
In the context of the current climate, post-viral fatigue is considered one of the 4 types of long-Covid(2), the others being:
Various symptoms affecting different parts of the body
Lasting organ damage from the virus
Post-intensive care symptoms
Current estimates suggest that 1.1m people have reported experiencing symptoms more than 4 weeks after initial suspected infection - that’s 20% of those who tested positive for Covid(3). And according to the The COVID Symptoms Study App(4), the most common reported symptoms were fatigue and headaches. Interestingly, it affects women more then men (3), as does ME/CFS(5).
Someone with post-viral fatigue can feel completely exhausted and unable to recover, and may also experience headaches, brain fog and muscle and joint pain - symptoms which are also common in ME/CFS(6).
Although what causes post-viral fatigue is not fully understood, it’s thought the immune response mounted to address a viral infection does not return to normal, causing ongoing symptoms(5).
Is post-viral fatigue the same as ME/CFS?
It depends on who you speak to. Personally, I was originally diagnosed with post-viral syndrome back in 2013. Having never heard of it, I went home and googled it, and discovered it was also known as ME/CFS. Whilst viral infection is a common contributory factor in ME/CFS(1), not all cases involve a viral infection and there may be other underlying causes. What's important is that whatever the causes, people get help to address their fatigue and other debilitating symptoms.
So why the picture of the camel?
Whilst viral infections can be contributory in the development of ME/CFS, it's usually not the full picture but the straw that broke the camel's back. There can be adrenal and thyroid dysfunction, stress, traumatic experiences, poor nutrition and/or sleep as well as viral infections and all these need to be identified and addressed as part of the healing journey. It's well-known that the stress hormone cortisol suppresses our immune system, making us susceptible to infections and illness. Looking back, this was certainly the case for me - a poorly managed thyroid condition, traumatic experiences, a huge amount of personal and professional stress just before my final straws, flu and norovirus.
If you feel you may be suffering with long-Covid or post-viral fatigue, it’s important to speak to your doctor in the first instance.
If you're struggling with fatigue, whatever its cause, why not book a FREE discovery call with me to discover how nutritional therapy may help?
And if you're not already receiving my monthly emails, you can sign up here to ensure you don't miss out on future articles.
The content on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.