Many recent studies suggest that the intestinal microflora affects not only digestion, but also many other processes in the body, including even cognitive functions. It follows that problems with the microflora can cause various diseases. In particular, recently many scientists have come to the conclusion that the microflora can play an important role in such a disease as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or simply chronic fatigue syndrome. Usually it is accompanied not only by severe fatigue, but also by many other unpleasant symptoms, such as headaches, difficulty concentrating, muscle pain, etc. However, to this day, its causes have not been fully established, as a result of which there are no cures.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – What is it?
Each of us sometimes experiences severe fatigue, but after a good rest, a feeling of cheerfulness returns. However, with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a person always feels tired. No matter how much he sleeps, he cannot feel sleepy. And any activity, mental or physical, requires incredible effort.
However, there are no tests or studies that could determine the presence of ME. The diagnosis can only be made by a neurologist or psychiatrist. And for this, he must exclude other diseases, such as mononucleosis, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders, and many others.
Sometimes these symptoms are caused by a banal “spring depression”, which can be cured by the right selection of food. Therefore, the diagnosis of ME can only be made if symptoms have been present for at least six months.
Chronic fatigue is associated with disorders in the intestines
Several recent studies have shown that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have a different microflora than healthy individuals. In particular, this is reported in the journal Cell Host & Microbe by researchers from Columbia University. Scientists have found that patients with health problems are less likely to contain bacteria that synthesize important substances involved in metabolism and the immune system.
These are substances such as butyrate and fatty acid. Butyrate plays a particularly important role in the body. It regulates genetic changes in the cell, provides protection for the barrier between the intestines and the circulatory system, and performs some other important functions.
Another group of American scientists came to the same conclusions in their study. The authors of this work even believe that butyrate-synthesizing bacteria can be used to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome. In addition, scientists have found that over time, the microflora of people is restored, but its violations have long-term consequences, including chronic fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and COVID-19
CFS has always been fairly common, but the situation has worsened dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, in the United States before the pandemic, 2.5 million people suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome. Now, according to the US Government Accountability Office, ME has diagnosed 8-23 million Americans. True, in people who have recovered from COVID-19, chronic fatigue is called post-COVID syndrome. But perhaps both of these syndromes have the same roots?
Scientists suggest that viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2, cause disturbances in the intestinal microflora. For this reason, diarrhea, nausea, and other symptoms occur that indicate problems in the gastrointestinal tract. In some patients, the microflora quickly returns to normal, while in others, problems persist for a long time, which causes various disorders in the body and chronic fatigue.
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Finally, we note that the results of new studies may help not only diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome, but also promptly take measures for its treatment. Apparently, therapy will include taking probiotics and adjusting the diet. It is possible that some patients will also need additional medications to reverse the effects on the immune system and metabolism as a result of the disruption of the gut microflora.