Conference Coverage

Diagnosing and Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


In this video, Theresa Dowell, DNP, PT, provides the take-home messages from her session "Diagnosing and Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” at our Practical Updates in Primary Care 2023 Virtual Series. Dr Dowell talks about the major and minor core conditions for diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and what can possibly lead to a patient’s case of CFS.

Theresa Dowell, DNP, PT, is a family nurse practitioner and physical therapist at Four Peaks Healthcare Associates (Flagstaff, Arizona).

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Theresa Dowell, DNP, PT: Hello, my name is Theresa Dowell. I'm a family nurse practitioner and physical therapist who specializes in myalgic encephalomyelitis chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS. My presentation was on ME/CFS. In it, we learned the following things. We learned that in 80% of patients with ME/CFS, their illness started with either a viral or bacterial infection, sound familiar? Other triggers were also trauma, stress, and environmental toxins. Next, we explored the complicated pathophysiology of this condition and learned that immune, neurological, energy, gastrointestinal, neuroendocrine dysfunction, is part of this complex illness. From there, we discussed the three major and two minor core conditions for the diagnosis of ME/CFS, and those included fatigue, post exertional malaise, unrefreshed sleep, and either orthostatic intolerance or cognitive impairment. Then we took a closer look at each of these symptoms as well as sleep, pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms, and discussed a few strategies for those symptoms and their management. And lastly, I gave you some reliable resources to expand your knowledge of the condition and hopefully encourage you to treat this underserved population.

So thank you for your attention and I hope you valued your time and the opportunity to learn a little bit more about ME/CFS, because I'm sure grateful that you participated in this presentation. Thank you.