FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla (KFSN) --It's often called a mystery illness. But people who suffer with this experience real pain and extreme fatigue. Here are details on how researchers are helping those tired of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Paula Bushman loves working in her garden. But the former marine and mom of three suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and some days she can't get off the couch.
"It's a 500 pound gorilla on your back," described Bushman.
Chronic fatigue syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. Researchers say it could be triggered by a bad virus or in Bushman's case possibly toxic water she was exposed to while stationed at Camp LeJeune. At first, doctors told her it was in her head.
"We think you need to go to a psychiatrist, and I said 'what you think I'm crazy?,'" Bushman told Ivanhoe.
It wasn't until Bushman found Nancy Klimas, M.D., director of Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that she finally got some answers.
"It's certainly not some abhorrent depression or psychological thing; it's a biological condition," explained Dr. Klimas. (Read Full Interview)
The illness involves inflammation of the brain.
Dr. Klimas detailed, "It affects how you think. It affects your cognition. It affects your hormone regulation."
Now Dr. Klimas and her team are on the verge of a breakthrough identifying a specific gene which will allow them to predict the best medications.
For now, Dr. Klimas put Bushman on a regimen of vitamins and supplements to boost her immune system.
She feels better then she has in years.
Bushman told Ivanhoe, "I wasn't always in bed. I could do dishes, simple things."
Doctors say it's important for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome to pace themselves. The first clinical trial is expected next spring.
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