Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – an overview

Dr. Adrienne Sprouse

Dr. Adrienne Sprouse

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a serious multi-system illness characterized by increased fatigue after minimal exertion, cognitive impairment, and poor recovery from stressors-physical and otherwise.  Other symptoms can include confusion, concentration problems, forgetfulness, feeling unrefreshed after sleep, joint pain, new headaches, mild fever, muscle aches or weakness, sore throat, and sore lymph nodes.

There are no known causes (viruses and nerve inflammation have been theorized), no diagnostic tests specific for CFS (although brain MRIs appear to be abnormal in a substantial number of patients) and no specific treatments other than attempting to suppress problematic symptoms.

All of the symptoms of CFS can be caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, and because there is good treatment for toxic chemical exposures, the correct diagnosis can significantly improve a patient’s outcome.  Many different chemicals can be involved. Solvents and pesticides can cause cognitive dysfunction resulting in forgetfulness, concentration problems, and confusion. Toxic chemicals can also cause severe fatigue, sleep disorders, and nerve dysfunction.  Chemical exposures can affect any organ system in the body, and the widespread multi-system involvement seen in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome parallels that of many patients who have Chemical Sensitivity.

Indoor mold contamination is an example of a combination of toxic chemicals that cause excessive fatigue, headaches, memory problems, spaciness/disorientation, slurred speech, lightheadedness, dizziness, weakness, weak voice, and coordination problems (among others) at a rate higher in mold-exposed individuals than those not exposed to mold.

Blood and urine tests are available to measure many toxic chemicals including mold toxins, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, plasticizers, fire retardants, and heavy metals.  Measuring these chemicals, then determining where you got the exposure can form the foundation of a treatment plan that could relieve many of the symptoms of CFS.  Treatment to clear the chemicals from your body could bring relief.

An Environmental Medicine Physician can arrange for this specialized evaluation and treatment.  For more information, contact the American Academy of Environmental Medicine at

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