How Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Affects Patients

According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a disorder defined as extreme fatigue that cannot be explained by any one underlying medical condition which can get worse with physical or mental activity and doesn’t improve with rest. While there is no known cause to CFS, experts have several theories that it may be triggered by a combination of factors, psychological stress or viral infections. There is not a specific test to diagnose CFS, so you may need a variety of medical tests to rule out other health problems. Things like stress and age may increase your risk of CFS. CFS occurs at any age; however it mostly affects people in their 40s and 50s. Chronic sleep deprivation can cause negative effects on our mood and cause you to lose focus on daily tasks and responsibilities. Furthermore, sleep deprivation can affect your hunger hormones causing you to have an increased appetite. It is recommended that you get at least seven hours of quality sleep each night in order to have a healthy mind and body. Sleeping less than seven hours of night has been associated with high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes, depression and other negative health effects. Experts at the Mayo Clinic say it is important to get the proper amount of the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep because it is during that time our mind and body recovers from the physical and mental tasks of the day. During REM your brain also files long-term memories and separates important information from unimportant information. If the REM state of the sleep cycle is cut short, you could see a decrease in acuity and mental focus. Experts focus on symptom relief when looking for treatment options for CFS patients. One of the recommended treatments is regular sauna use.

Sauna Use: An Old Practice Gaining New Life

Sweating is a therapy practice that dates back thousands of years in cultures around the world. A discovery of a bath house in Scotland dating back to the Bronze Age, around 2000 B.C., was recently reported in an article by the Observer. There are several different types of saunas, but regardless the type the health benefit’s your body receives from them are all the same. In Infrared saunas, special lamps use light waves to heat a person’s body instead of the entire room. Infrared saunas are one of the few mediums that provide infrared heat in a controlled environment. Infrared heat is an invisible electromagnetic wave with a wavelength longer than that of visible light that helps improve blood flow. Typically in a traditional sauna, the surrounding air is heated up to about 185 degrees, which then heats your body up. However, in infrared saunas the temperature only reaches about 140 degrees. Infrared rays penetrate your body more deeply, which cause your body to start sweating at a lower temperature than a traditional sauna. According to a 2009 review of evidence done by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, researchers found that infrared saunas produce a lighter demand on the cardiovascular system, so they in turn might be beneficial to people who lead a more sedentary life due to medical issues.

Saunas May Relieve Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue

According to the book “Sauna Therapy for Detoxification and Healing,” written by Dr. Lawrence Wilson, researchers in Finland have found that sauna use aids in deeper, more restful sleep. Two patients with CFS saw improvements in their symptoms including pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance following treatment with thermal therapy, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. The study done by doctors at the Respiratory and Stress Care Center at the Kagoshima University Hospital in Kagoshima, Japan subjected the two patients to far-infrared ray dry saunas. Each person received treatment once a day for a total of 35 sessions. After 15 to 25 sauna sessions, patients reported dramatic improvement in their CFS symptoms. After discharge, the two patients continued therapy approximately once or twice a week for about one year. According to the study, neither of the subjects showed relapse or inflammation of symptoms during their first year after discharge. Experts say the study’s results suggest that thermal therapy may be a promising alternative method for the treatment of CFS. If you are new to sauna sits, it is recommended that first-time users spend no more between five and 10 minutes. As you get more and more used to the heat, you can slowly increase the time you spend in the infrared sauna to up to about 20 minutes. In addition to limiting the time spent in a sauna, experts also advise to avoid combining alcohol consumption with sauna use. According to a year-long study of people in Finland who experienced sudden death showed that the person had a sauna within the last three hours in 1.8 percent of cases and in the last 24 hours in 1.7 percent of cases. Many of these people had also consumed alcohol. Instead, no matter the type of sauna you use, it is recommended that you drink about two to four glasses of water after a sauna sit in order to replace the fluids lost from sweating.

Resources: Mayo Clinic ; U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; Sauna Therapy for Detoxification and Healing,” by Dr. Lawrence Wilson; U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; Masuda A, Kihara T, Fukudome T, Shinsato T, Minagoe S, & Tei C. The Effects of Repeated Thermal Therapy for Two Patients with Chroic Fatigue Syndrome. [published online April, 2005].