Conference Coverage

Preview: Understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


In this video, Theresa Dowell, DNP, PT, provides a preview of her session "Diagnosing and Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” at our Practical Updates in Primary Care 2023 Virtual Series on May 26. Dr Dowell speaks about the common symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and the treatment strategies health care professionals can use for patients with 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: Hi there. My name is Theresa Dowell. I'm a family nurse practitioner and physical therapist that specializes in myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome, better known as ME/CFS. I'm a member of the US coalition made up of the top ME/CFS providers in the country. I'm also a member of the ME/CFS long COVID research team with the Workwell Foundation. My presentation is going to be on ME/CFS and I'm going to discuss how to recognize and diagnose this complex illness.

ME/CFS is a diagnosis of exclusion, so providers are often hesitant to label their patients with this stigmatized condition. However, I believe that identifying this condition gives the patient hope that they'll find help and that their condition will improve.

From there, we're going to look at treatment approaches to the most common symptoms patients with ME/CFS complain of. We'll explore fatigue, orthostatic intolerance, mast cell activation syndrome, as well as sleep, cognitive impairment, pain, and even gastrointestinal symptom strategies. These strategies are based on what specialists like myself have found to improve function and quality of life. As you know, at this time, there's no cure for ME/CFS. These treatment strategies will give you a starting point for your patients. As a bonus, so to speak, the treatment strategies you learn in my presentation will also help you with your long COVID patients, as then you'll have a few tools to use on them also.

I hope you'll join me. Together, we'll dive into the world of ME/CFS and you'll become more comfortable and have some more tools to really help your patients. Thank you.